Keeps Moving Forward While Learning from the Past
Alanna was born in rural Brown County. She is the oldest of three siblings. She believes her parents provided her with a good upbringing. She was never in trouble, got good grades, and was very close to her family. She intended to enlist for military service upon graduating from high school.
When Alanna was 18 years old she met her first partner. She says her father tried to warn her that this guy would be trouble. However, Alanna continued the relationship and eventually moved to West Virginia with him. They had a son together. Alanna describes her first partner as “very controlling and physically abusive.” This relationship eventually became even more physically abusive and she was able to escape after realizing the danger she was in.
A short time later, Alanna entered into another relationship and had a second child. It turned out this partner was also very physically violent. At the time her second child was about 9 months old, Alanna learned that her son had “had an accident and had gotten hurt” while he was in the care of her partner and she was at work. Alanna shared her partner’s version of the incident with the police. She later learned that her partner had brutally assaulted her son!
The State of West Virginia petitioned to take her two children from her and charged her with neglect and giving false information to the authorities. Still quite young and far from the support of family and friends, Alanna learned that she was pregnant yet again and the State was terminating her parental rights. She gave birth to her youngest daughter and was able to transfer her probation supervision from West Virginia to Minnesota. At this point she moved back to Brown County to get the support of her family.
West Virginia notified Minnesota of the termination, and per Minnesota law, Alanna was automatically considered an unfit parent. Eventually Minnesota terminated her rights, and her youngest child was adopted by Alanna’s mother.
It was at this time that Alanna began meeting with a self-sufficiency counselor from Life-Work Planning Center as a condition of her probation. She attended the 6-week “Strength. Balance. Self-Respect” workshop series. Additionally, she attended the 3-week “Job Search Skills’ series. As a displaced homemaker, she was eligible to receive some incidental financial support to be able to attend the workshops. She also came in for one-to-one support counseling. Alanna says the topics really helped her move forward. She says, “All the topics helped me work on self-forgiveness. She says she learned so much during her time with Life-Work Planning Center. “My situation was bad but I wasn’t!”
She was able to complete her probation in ½ the time! Alanna found a job as a temporary employee with a local non-profit. She is now currently employed full-time with that same organization! She uses her personal experience and exceptional skills to work with people who are experiencing homelessness as she helps them to stabilize their housing situation.
Due to her conviction, she thought that it would never be possible to enlist in the service. However, the charges were plead down to gross misdemeanors and she recently learned that she may still reach her ultimate goal! Alanna’s advice to others is, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I tried fixing myself and ended up in the same hole.” She just keeps moving forward while learning from the past because displaced homemakers really do start over!
– Jean Keenan