Updated: Jun 29
Shaeley knew she could never go back. She no longer had custody of her son Isaiah and was at risk of losing him forever. There was too much at stake if she didn’t look forward into the future.
“I made the decision to commit,” Shaeley recalls. “I knew in my heart that I wanted to be Isaiah’s mom more than I wanted anything, especially drugs. I remember thinking, ‘I’ve got to do this.’”
The 18-year-old grew up in the far mountains of western North Carolina and readily admits she was raised in “a rough situation.” She and her siblings would go to a neighbor’s house with running
water for showers. There were times when there was little to no food because the family’s money went to buying drugs. She says she was never physically abused by her mom and stepfather, but that drugs were pervasive.
“I was smoking cigarettes as a child, and by the time I was 12, I was smoking weed,” she says. “The week before I turned 14, I began using meth.”
That year Shaeley met Isaiah’s birth father. He was 17 and her life became one big party: “It was all about me.”
A year later at 15, she was living in a detention-type group home and was pregnant. Her step-father and mom divorced, and he was working to have Shaeley released to him.
“It was like living in a fog,” she says. “I wasn’t using drugs and was sober, but I wanted out.”
She was clean for a year and Isaiah was five months old when she was released and went to live with her step-father.
“I picked up right where I left off with the drugs and my boyfriend,” she says. “This time he was abusive. It was the first time I got a black eye.”
Now authorities were watching out for Isaiah’s welfare. A state social worker outlined Shaeley’s options. She would go with Isaiah into Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) care, or she would lose her son. The next day, she came into care.
“I shut down, pulling back from everyone the first few weeks in care,” she says. “Being off drugs and going through withdrawals went from hard to harder. I remember nights when I sobbed in the
darkness. It was like being really hungry, having a big appetite, and not being able to eat anything. I longed for the drugs, but I didn’t give up.”
During the day as the effects of the drugs wore off, Shaeley began to realize how much she had missed. Isaiah was crawling and lifting himself up to stand.
“I couldn’t remember any of it,” she says. “It was like waking up from a sleep, looking around, and realizing I missed a lot of stuff—I had missed too much of Isaiah’s life. And it wasn’t worth it.”
With renewed strength, she began to work harder.
Shaeley knows that reaching six months clean was a big turning point. “It’s a long time for a drug addict. Most never make it that long.”
When teen moms like Shaeley come into BCH’s care, they are provided a supportive cottage home at Mills Home in Thomasville in which mother and child can live. Caring staff help single mothers learn parenting, vocational and educational skills while caring for their babies.
“The staff have made the difference, especially Tanya and Jim,” she says of her cottage parents. “I’m learning what a family is supposed to be like. I have a new family.”
Shaeley felt shame as she began to realize what her life had become, how much she had risked losing Isaiah.
“I began to talk to Tanya and she told me there was no need to feel shame,” Shaeley says. “She showed me so much love and she supported me. She told me that my past was just that, my past.”
On October 28, 2020, Shaeley accepted Christ as her personal Savior. Time spent with Tanya and Jim in prayer and cottage Bible
study began to impact her life.
“I would go back to my room and think ‘I need what they have,’” she says. “It was not long before I was with Tanya telling her I wanted to be saved.”
Now on track to achieving the requirements to graduate high school, Shaeley is looking ahead, planning to begin Western Carolina University in January 2023. She hopes to become a traveling nurse.
Recently, Shaeley achieved her biggest success to date, an answered prayer, she says. The day arrived when she would learn if Isaiah would return to her sole custody.
“I was holding my breath, and I looked up and the judge was crying,” she says. “I couldn’t hold back my tears as she gave Isaiah back to me. She told me that I had done what most parents couldn’t do in ten years.”
Shaeley knows God answers her prayers. She says it can take longer than she might want, but that the answer comes in God’s
When you give to Baptist Children’s Homes, you become a part of Shaeley and Isaiah’s story! Your generosity makes it possible for us to provide care, support and show children the love of Christ. Click here to help change lives.
Written by Jim Edminson, Editor of Charity & Children