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Zoey takes control of her life; committed to success

April 26, 2012

Zoey was in the midst of monumental change, and it could have gone a bad way.

Zoey

In foster care almost all her life, she faced serious adult decisions at 18 years old. Looking back at that time, it’s almost as if it were a fond memory, she said.

She left her foster home and lived at the YWCA and took classes at a local college. She lived nearby, and could walk where she needed to go. She had a job. But Zoey’s soft-spoken and shy by nature, and had trouble securing the other things adults need — finding a doctor, pursuing a career, finding housing. Her case manager with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services told her about Youth Villages’ transitional living program.

“I was never taught how to do those things,” she said. “I didn’t know how to respond to questions; everything was confusing.”

Then she found out she was pregnant.

“One of the first things we did was get her to a doctor for a checkup,” said Lindsey Jones, Youth Villages TL specialist. “That’s when we found out she was pregnant.”

She had to leave the YWCA. She then stayed with a friend. Then she lost her job.

“There were some challenges for us at the beginning when she found out she was pregnant and lost her job,” Lindsey said. “But she had support from Michael, her fiancé, and she was motivated to make sure things worked out.”

Michael was a huge help.

“He was always there for me,” Zoey said. “He went with me to all of my doctor’s appointments and was waiting for me at the hospital when I went into labor.”

And a little less than a year ago, their son was born.

“I wanted a safe place for my son,” Zoey said. “I want to be a mother and watch him grow.”

The TL program provides young adults leaving foster care with the intensive support and guidance they need to make a successful transition to adulthood. The program helps young people learn to deal with the minor and major problems that come with adulthood. TL specialists help participants find housing and health services, learn how to access transportation and meet their basic needs. Specialists teach life skills like budgeting, menu planning and grocery shopping.

Zoey discharged from the TL program in October. Her son’s healthy. She’s working part-time now and plans to return to school as soon as possible. She hasn’t bought a car, but knows the bus system very well. Michael and she have an apartment, and she continues regular meetings with a private practice therapist and social service nurse through nonprofit organizations that offer support while their son is an infant.
Having a child at this time is stressful, but still fun, Zoey said. She’s not sure how all of this would’ve turned out without the TL program.

“If it wasn’t for Youth Villages, I’d be a lot further behind,” she said. “I’d still be the timid little girl I was before.”

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