Growing up I faced many challenges, which has helped me to think about the kind of home that I now want for my baby daughter. I’d like to give her a better life than the one I had, to give her a support system. To me, that’s the base of success, and that’s what she deserves: because if she feels encouraged and loved, she can move forward and grow into a beautiful and intelligent woman that makes a positive difference in this life—and I want to do it all that in the name of love.
My story starts with my adoptive mother, who adopted me because my biological mother chose life and realized she was unable to care for me. The challenges began very early: my adopted father separated from us by the time I turned one. We moved a lot, and I grew up “the new girl,” “the outsider,” “the baby.” In 3rd grade, we moved to New York, where I attended Catholic school. I felt the most comfortable there: I liked how people treated each other.
I was 7 years old when Mom started dating someone. We spent six years in the New York house that her boyfriend purchased. The house was on 3 acres with a pond and a barn and a tree house that he built. We had small animals, like goats and chickens. Although my mom’s boyfriend never was married and had no kids, he worked hard and provided for us. He was a man of character and he never disrespected me. I was enjoying school at this time too, and even had a positive middle school experience with dances and trips.
This phase of life offered me a taste of stability, and it’s that kind of stability that I want to give my daughter.
That stability didn’t last for me. I don’t know what happened, but by 8th grade Mom left her boyfriend. Mom and I moved to a nearby small town where we slept in her friend’s office. Eventually we rented a house from our friend. We actually got something good going there: Mom worked at a local college, so that when I got older I could go there for free. I was able to attend the same high school where I kept friends and where I was able to swim and figure skate—something that I enjoyed greatly.
But, just as suddenly, we left and returned to South Philadelphia. Mom changed and she blamed me for things: Hannah was horrible, Hannah was a liar. I did not feel as though I had anyone to defend me, though I was still under my mom’s care. When I was 18, she kicked me out of the house.
By age 26, I was living from boyfriend to boyfriend, and eventually I was homeless. I met a guy who also was homeless on the street in center city Philadelphia. He had just had gotten out of jail. Not long after we met, I became pregnant with our baby girl.
During my pregnancy and since our daughter has been born, her father and I have had our rough patches. But in my dream world he would get his stuff together. I would like him to be “the one,” and maybe we’d even get married. I want him to be involved with our baby daughter and to be able to restart his roofing business.
But I also recognize I need to get my stuff together, so I am planning on getting a job, completing my college degree and hopefully becoming an art teacher—my lifelong passion. I’d like to give my daughter a respected, safe, secure and stable life. I understand she will meet obstacles that I can’t remove for her, but I can lead by example and show her how to deal with obstacles. I can provide her with resources and tools that can guide her later in life and as she grows.
I’d like to start by giving her home and stability—surrounding her with positivity and keeping her in good faith. These are things that I strive for in my adult life, that I lacked in childhood. I’d like to support her in her decisions, as long as it is within reason. I’d like to raise her to dream about becoming something successful, and I hope she never gives up on her dreams. Hopefully, her father and I get it together, because I’d like to raise her in a home with both parents, which is something I lacked.
I want her to have security. Security to me is love and acceptance. It’s showing up to your daughter’s swim meets and cheering her on. It’s being there and doing what you can to provide her a safe and loving home, so that she doesn’t feel like she doesn’t fit in or is all alone, but a place where she belongs. That’s the kind of home I wish I had growing up, and it’s what I want for my daughter.