The youngest of nine children, Lindsey was adopted at the age of eight by her maternal grandparents. Now 30, she lives with her three children in a Florida shelter for families.
“My father was out of the picture, living on the west coast. My mom was going to put me in foster care when my grandparents adopted me. They were there for me. My mom was not there for me, and I don’t want to be that kind of mom to my kids.”
The father of Lindsey’s first two children says he wants to be involved in their lives, but he is not helping to support them. He lost his drivers license, and has been unable to keep a job.
Lindsey agreed to share an apartment with her father. He had just moved back to Florida from the west coast, and Lindsey had separated from the father of her two older children. As a single mother with an 11-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl, she was struggling to keep her apartment.
“My father just could not control his drinking. He finally totaled my car. That’s when things really began to unravel for us.”
Without a car, Lindsey had to spend $40 a day getting her children to and from school and getting herself to work at a grocery store. “No one wants to offer full-time jobs. I could only get part-time work.
Lindsey’s father had agreed to pay the rent, but he was missing payments. Pregnant with her third child, estranged from her boyfriend, and facing eviction, Lindsey considered putting her baby up for adoption.
“It was hard enough trying to figure out how to take care of my oldest two children. I just didn’t see how I could care for a third. There is nothing worse than seeing your children hungry.”
Friends suggested Lindsey contact a local shelter for families. She moved in a year ago, and was able to keep her baby, a girl now seven months old. She has her part-time job back at the grocery store, and she is working a second job in the shelter’s thrift store.
Following the guidelines of the shelter, she is saving 75 percent of her earnings. With that money she hopes to afford to move with her three children into an apartment in another year. Explaining why she dreams about owning a home, Lindsey says, “I don’t want my kids to have to move from place to place to place like I did.”
When she is not working or helping at the family shelter, Lindsey attends classes at a community college. She is on track to graduate in another year with an A.A. degree in medical information technology.
“I’m doing well in school, and my kids are, too. I shield them from the challenges I am going through and I try to keep them encouraged.”
The shelter has been helpful with transportation, clothing, Christmas gifts for the children, and arranging day care for her baby.
Note: This narrative is one of thirty such stories to be included in a book titled, “Homeless in a Land of Plenty.” I have been working on the project since August, 2016. By the end of June, I will have completed visiting some 50 cities from Portland, Maine to Seattle, to San Diego, to Orlando.