KINSTON, N.C. (BP)–The 13-year-old, who came to the Baptist children’s home campus timid and hopeless, has found stability and security.
When younger, Lacey often was left to care for herself and her siblings. She used to dream of ways to safely walk to and from school. Now, she dreams about college and a career working with animals. (Only Lacey’s first name will be used in this article.)
Last January, Lacey and her older sister, Lonnie, arrived at the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina campus at Kinston after social services found them living in a van at the beach with their father and three other siblings. The younger children now live in a foster home.
Lacey’s father took them to the beach after his wife, Lacey’s mom, left them to live with her boyfriend. Their relationship, said Lacey, was always volatile.
“Mom left off and on throughout my life,” she said. “My parents never got along. They were together for 14 years, arguing, fussing. Nobody liked each other in our home.”
Soon, the constant fighting took its toll. Lacey, a self- proclaimed good student, began missing school. Her grades dropped and she tried to commit suicide.
“I told my dad I did it to make him feel sorry for me and to pay attention to me,” she said. “I threw fits to get their attention.”
“Our dad got stuck keeping us,” Lacey said, recounting the night her mother left for good. “Most of the time, she’d just go. We didn’t know where she was going or when she was coming back.”
When she left the last time, it was permanent.
Today, Lacey’s mom is trying to get her children back home.
“Things are better now with my mom,” Lacey said. “She comes to see us every weekend. We are closer to each other and we don’t fight and argue like we used to.”
Part of the problem, said Lacey, was her parents couldn’t afford to care for them on their own and they weren’t willing to help each other. When her mom left, Lacey’s dad couldn’t afford the rent and moved the whole family to the beach. Soon, because of a mix-up with the landlords there, they were kicked out of their rented home. That night, they drove to a shelter in Wilmington, N.C., where they were turned away because there was no adult female to stay with the girls. In the end, they lived in their family van.
Within a few days, all five children were taken from their father and placed in a foster home.
“They took us to a lady’s house and the first thing she said was, ‘You are filthy,'” said Lacey, feeling rejected again.
In the beginning, her dad tried to find a house so he could get his children back. At the same time, Lacey’s mom was working to get the children home with her.
Now, Lacey said, no one knows where her dad is, but her mom is making great progress.
“She just needs a home for us and it has to be approved,” said Lacey, whose number one dream is returning home.
Before a child can return home, certain goals must be accomplished by the child and the family. According to the goals, Lacey is almost ready.
At the Kinston campus, or Kennedy Home, Lacey shares a room with her sister. Although they spent many years arguing and fighting, their relationship has strengthened. “We have a sisterly type relationship and get along most of the time. We stick up for each other and when we do argue, we work it out.”
Since her placement over a year ago, Lacey said she’s overcome many problems by giving her life to Christ. She was baptized June 9, 1996.
“Growing up, I went to church with my mom and dad some. But I would be a Christian for that day and the rest of the week, whew, we just didn’t act that way. Now, I try to revolve my life around Christ every day. I’m quiet at school so I won’t get in trouble. I used to have a foul mouth, but now I don’t. I asked for forgiveness.”