Amanda's Story ~ Preparing Parents
My name is Amanda. I would like to tell everyone about how Jacob’s House has changed and blessed my family. I have 3 wonderful children, two boys and a little girl. I have been married for 3 month’s now to a wonderful man named Allen, who has been my rock through this journey.
We had to let go of our son, Kaleb, forever to help him and my family, last July of 2013. I had so many mixed emotions. I didn’t know if I was sad or angry. I know I was very hurt. My husband was hurt. Kaleb was the son he never had. He loves Kaleb so much.
Kaleb has been in 2 short term behavior centers and an orphanage for troubled teens. He was there for 30 days. He was in one of the centers 3 different times. We had him in counseling at Pathways and he was seeing a Juvenile officer.
It was frustrating for the both of us. We did whatever it took to get him help and nothing seemed to work. For the first time, we were being the parents we needed to be.
I was very young when I had my first son. I left his dad, when he was 2. My parents had taken care of him most of the time. I worked nights waitressing and went to school during the day. My parents let me have a taste of freedom, and I started hanging out with friends, more than what I should have been. I stopped going to school and quit in the 10th grade. I was lucky to have parents who took over custody of him. I wasn’t being the mother I should have been.
I was 20 years old when I had Kaleb. I was once again a single mom. His dad wasn’t a very nice man. We were together 3 months and we had used drugs. I found out I was pregnant and stopped using. His dad didn’t and got me kicked out of my apartment and left me when I was about 4 months pregnant. I never heard from him or saw him again . Kaleb was a very smart, and an, outgoing kid. He was always’s laughing. He was very spoiled. He loved his brother so much. We nicked name him "Sunshine" when he was 3. He always brightened up our day with his smile, even if it was a bad day. Everyone fell in love with him.
I moved back in with my parents. They helped me with Kaleb. My mom watched him while I worked. And at times when I would go with friends. Things started getting bad between me and my younger sister. We would argue everyday. I got a second job Thursday through Saturday. I wanted to save money to get my own place and that would be the only way for me to actually be a mom. I wanted to try it on my own. I was scared about it, but had no choice. I was making myself take responsiblity.
My dad had left my mom by then, so we had to move into a 2 bedroom tiny apartment with 5 of us. Things were rough. I had gotten a better paying job at a boat factory. I worked 4 -10 hour days. My mom got social security but it was very little. She took care of Kaleb for me. My sister and I were arguing a lot more, so I started hanging out with friends.
I guess we started noticing Kaleb’s behavior when he was 6. By then I was living with a very picky, very proper man and he was very unhappy man most of the time. I still worked at the boat factory and my mom still watched Kaleb for me. Kaleb had his own room at my place, but he didn’t like staying with me much. We couldn’t be ourselves around my the man I lived with, he would get on to us for acting goofy. He didn’t have kids himself nor date anyone with kids. We didn’t get along at all and we started arguing a lot.
I started to think that was the reason Kaleb was acting out. I had to stop taking him to the stores with me because he would cause a scene or take off in and out of the stores. It was getting pretty bad. I decided to move out but it took me awhile to finally do it. I would have to move back to my mom’s, I didn’t want to, she and my sister had moved into a two bedroom house around the block from my apartment. My sister had 2 kids of her own by then and was a single mom herself. We still didn’t get along.
Allen and I didn’t talk much when we were friends, but here and there he would flirt with me. He was one of those guys that all the girls wanted and I didn’t think I had a chance with him. I didn’t think he liked me actually until we all went on a adult only camping trip with a big group of friends. We left the camp fire walked down to the river and talked for hours. A couple weeks passed and we still didn’t talk much, then we went on a family camping trip. He has a daughter that my two boys adored, she was a tom boy and loved doing what they liked doing . Allen got me alone and kissed me. I finally got to tell him how I felt, I was in love. I moved out of the apartment the next day. I had to be with my happiness, and it felt so good to finally be happy. My two boys loved Allen too.
Allen and I moved in together after 3 weeks of dating. Thing seemed to be going great for a little while. Then it got really rough, and we started using drugs on the weekends and it got out of hand and we started using everyday. Allen and I would fight all the time.
Kaleb stayed at my mom’s a lot. She put him back into counseling. Kaleb was sneaking off again, cursing at my mom and me at times. He became a very unhappy little boy. My mom had to have the principal of his school to get him to go to school. He got bullied, but then became the bully. I got a lot of calls from the teachers beause of his behavior. Kaleb and I moved to a one bedroom house. I wasn’t working but was on unemployment. That was scary. I was a single mom, who couldn’t get off the drugs. Allen and I were still seeing each other off and on but we still didn’t get along. Kaleb still didn’t like staying with me much and we would argue all the time. He thought he was an adult and could do whatever he wanted.
On June 29th 2010, I found out I was going to have another baby. I was scared and happy at the same time. I was scared, thinking I was going to be a single mom again and not knowing if she was going to be ok considering my drug use. I was happy, because I wanted to stop using drug for a while but couldn’t. Now I had no choice but to quit. I was more scared of telling my two boys that I was pregnant then I was telling my parents. It angered Kaleb. Eric said it didn’t surprise him any. They disliked Allen now, a lot. I told Allen I was pregnant that night, and told him he had to get clean if he wanted to be in her life. Allen went to rehab and we went to NA meetings every chance we got. We even got into church. We got a two bedroom home that we fixed up. Everybody was happy and Kaleb moved in with us. Our house was down the street from my moms so he would go down there maybe a couple of hours a week. He didn’t cause any problems.
On Feb 16th 2011, I had my beautiful daughter (Albany). Kaleb and Eric both adored her. My parents and I were getting along. They started liking Allen. We were both staying clean, and Allen was working. Allen’s mom was starting to like me. She liked me at first, when Allen and I got together but because we were using, she disliked me.
Kaleb loved Allen’s mom and never gave her any trouble or talked bad to her. He would go with us to visit her, and he would sit and just talk to her about everything. She loved him so much. When she passed, it broke his heart, he would hardly talk for days and he started acting out once again. He would take off not asking nor telling me where he was going. He started breaking into our house when we were not there. Kaleb was jealous of Albany. He would get so mad when I would ground him, he would yell, and stomp off to his room, and slam his door so hard, pictures would fall off the wall. He wouldn’t act like that when Allen was around. He would talk bad to me, but Allen would make him apologize. Allen really didn’t know what he could do to help me. When we had to call a police officer to help us one night to find him, I had asked the police officer what kind of discipline Allen was able to do. He told me in front of Kaleb, there was nothing besides grounding and stuff like that. He was only the step dad. Kaleb heard it and ran with it, each time he would do something worse than the time before.
My mom had taken custody of Kaleb when Allen and I were using but I didn’t know that she had. So at that time, I had to have my mom help me get him into Pathways. Kaleb would tell me he didn’t have to listen to me because Grandma had custody of him, which is how I found out. My mom would say things in front of Kaleb, that he didn’t need to hear. Kaleb would soak in everything that was said, and use it against us. It was making it very hard to put our family together.
When Allen’s mom passed, we moved into her house across town. We thought it would be better being away from that neighborhood and not so close for Kaleb to take off to my mom’s. Kaleb started going to church for teens two nights a week. Eric was going and so were some of the kids on the block. Kaleb was doing good, until he started hanging out with those kids. They were a couple of years older than him and were the kids his brother hung out with. Kaleb started getting into a lot of trouble and the school had to file a report with the juvenile officer. I started getting really scared for Kaleb.
At this time Kaleb was the little boy who cried wolf or it was always someone else’s fault or idea. He couldn’t ever take blame. Allen confronted the kid that Kaleb blamed, and I wanted to cry because Kaleb was finally telling the truth. I kept him away from all the kids on that block and de did really good. I had no complaints to give his juvenile officer so she let him off a month later. Kaleb continued to do good for awhile.
Kaleb started getting better at being a charmer. He started sneaking around once more and then he stopped coming home at all. The first night he disappeared, he was supposed to be staying the night at grandma’s with his brother. Some friends came and got Eric to go skateboarding and Kaleb wanted to go so he called me and asked. I said no cause it was late but he told my mom, I said yes. She believed him and he went. He stayed out all night. Later he called my mom and said he was at home with me and he was staying. She believed him once again. He didn’t call me the whole next day so I called my mom that afternoon to see if Kaleb was there. She said no, thought he was at your house. I called his counselor again to see what I should do and she told me to file a missing report. Things just kept getting worse. We had him admitted into his first behavior center. He had stolen money from us and a lot of it. He would leave for days with the police looking for him.
It was so hard. I felt guilty for his doings and I blamed our past but, I was frustrated too. We worked so hard to finally give him the life he deserved and we gave him a good life. Allen and I never would fight, and he stood by me and I stood by him. Kaleb would try to play us against each other, and it didn’t work. We were still learning how to be parents. Kaleb got things he wanted, but he had to earn them. He had his own room, with nice things and we took him out to do things. Allen was a father to him never treating him any different than his kids. He thought of Kaleb as his own. I didn’t understand why Kaleb continued getting into trouble.
Kaleb was put on medication from the center. I hated having to give them to him, it broke my heart. They seemed to work for about a month. He had a med Dr. at Pathways. She took him off a few that she didn’t think he needed. They diagnosed him with bipolar and said he was A D H D. The Med Dr. told me Kaleb, wasn’t bipolar. That he had gotten to do whatever he wanted for so long in the past, that now that he is older and his brother and friends get to run the streets, that he believes he can and he does. Kaleb was in and out of the same center twice more. They put him on more medication which had been switched by the Dr at pathways. She had switched his meds so many times, just to get them right.
Things with Kaleb were different this time. He was trying to gain our trust back, and he would do what he really needed to do. Things were great. Before I wouldn’t even let him walk to the gas station, because I was afraid he would take off. He did wonderful for a few weeks and asked to walk to the gas station to get a soda. I had no money that day to give him but he said he had money and he wanted a soda. I let him go, and 2 hours passed. I gave him 15 mins to get back home or I would file a runaway report. Two hours had passed and I was headed out the door whena cop pulled up and Kaleb was sitting in the back of the car. My neighbor lady pulled up and was so upset, her younger son was with Kaleb at the store, and they got caught stealing candy. They both blamed each other. I called Allen crying. He didn’t know what to say by then. He was at the point of exploding. I called Amber and asked for her advice.
Amber was the preacher’s wife at the teen church. She said she would talk to him and try to explain to him what would happen if he didn’t stop getting into trouble. Amber worked a lot with trouble teens. At this point Allen and I were on the verge of giving up, nothing we did worked and nothing scared him and each time he was getting in worse trouble. Amber is a wonderful person, and she was the answer to our prayer. She is the one who found Jacob’s House and set everything up for us.
I had called her one day to see if she had seen Kaleb. She said he had gone to church and she had dropped him off at home. She thought she had watched Kaleb go in our house but he was so good at sneaking off by then and he had sneaked off to the neighbor’s house. I went over there that afternoon to see if they had seen him and the little brother of the friend said no. Come to find out later on that day, he was there the whole time. his friend was hiding him out. They were outside when I had pulled up from getting back from looking for him the juvenile officer told me not to look for him, to file another runaway report. I was too scared to but she said she was tired of dealing with him. It was the last time of seeing her and that she was going to talk to a judge about putting him into a juvenile center, if she got another report. I went over to tell the mom of the kid, and she said Kaleb told her that I knew he was there. After that she started to run him off when ever he would go over there.
Weeks passed and Kaleb was doing more things with the church and with Amber. We went to counseling more days a week and the counseler tried to make up a new plan since all the other plans never worked. Allen got more involved, Albany was noticing what was going on and was she was talking more. She would tell Kaleb to be good. She would cry when he would have an outburst. You could tell it would break Kaleb’s heart and he did good about not having them around her. Albany never cried, she was always happy and she loved Kaleb; always wanting to be by his side. She understood a lot more than what any of us thought. It killed her when we would visit him at the centers and he couldn’t go home with us.
Kaleb did so good that we let him go to the movies one night with a friend. I got a call from the manager to pick him up. When I got there, there was a police officer there, the manager had to call them because Kaleb was out of hand. The police officer knew who we were and told him he would let him go with me this time. It was the one who had picked him up at the store. The Manager followed us to the jeep as we were leaving and heard how Kaleb was talking to me. He said he was going to file the report with Juvenile ,that I better do something now, before he got to out of hand. He was making it sound like it was my fault and that I didn’t care. I broke down crying and tried explaining to him that I was doing my best to get Kaleb the help he needed. I think that was the night Allen and I threw our hands up.
Kaleb knew that he had no more chances, but it seemed like he didn’t care. Day’s went by and I didn’t get a letter from the juvenile officer. I had called the manager from the theater and asked if he had filled out a report. He said no, because he had seen the scared look on my face when I explained what was going to happen if he did. Kaleb got lucky and he knew it but it didn't matter.
Kaleb went missing again and I had called Amber once again to help find him. I went to my mother’s to cry on her shoulder, I couldn’t take it anymore. I tried to be strong about it all but it was too much. At this time, I saw what it would do to Allen and I didn’t want to bother him with it. He knew my heart was broken but he didn’t know how to fix it. He didn’t know how to feel about it either. I had friends who were there for me too, but after awhile I didn’t bother them either ,I was afraid they would stop coming around. I didn’t want to be alone. All I did was cry and think. I didn’t want Albany to see me like that. I told my mom I had asked Amber to help us find a place for Kaleb to go to for a while because I couldn’t take it anymore. I was tired of not being able to sleep, always having to worry. The wondering day to day what he was going to do next. I was just tired of trying, and nothing was helping. Not the medicine, not the couseling, not the behavior centers or the orphanage for troubled teens, not the juvenile officers or threats of juvenile centers, nothing.
My mom got upset. She had no more control over the situation and she kept changing the subject. Kaleb had charmed her so much and had her believing so many lies. I was so mad, I left. When I got home Amber was at my house with Kaleb. I was already in tears and seeing him made me even madder. Allen saw me, gave me a hug and took Albany outside. He knew I had a lot to say to Kaleb and that day I was going to let it all out. Amber stayed in the room with us. She kept asking Kaleb if it bothered him at all to see me like that and to make me worry the way I did. He apologized to me. I didn’t believe him.
I walked Amber outside. She told me to keep praying to find a safe place for him; one that would help him. She said she would pray too. When I went back in, Allen was still out back, Kaleb looked at me and said, “ nice show, it didn’t fool him.” He walked out the door. I let him go at that point, I didn’t say a word. Kaleb knew down deep I was fed up so he came home early every night for a couple of weeks. Then he started acting different and I came to realize he needed the help that we couldn’t give him. I had talked to Amber and his counselor about it. They both pulled through for me and found places for Kaleb to go but he had to to in a behavior center first and that gave us only one week to find Kaleb a permanent place.
The day I had to stick him in the behavior center, I went to my mom’s and she was in shock that it was really happening. She got very angry. She didn’t understand really why it was happening. My dad and I just had gotten close, we never got along before. He finally made it comfortable enough for me to talk to him. I had to call him over to my mom’s, just to let everyone know the only reason I was doing it was to get Kaleb the help he needed, not because I didn’t want him. My mom had it in her mind that was why. I think we were all in shock. We all knew one day it could possibly happen. We just didn’t really think it really would.
I had three more days left until I had to find him a permanent place. I was stressing out because by then I didn’t want Kaleb back home. I was sleeping more, I knew he was safe and not roaming the streets. I prayed and prayed for a place. Amber called me later on that day after calling several places. She said she had talked to Penny who is the founder of Jacob’s house. She told Penny about our story and how badly Kaleb needed to be in a home like theirs.
Our prayers were answered that day. Amber set up an appointment the next day for us to come talk to Penny. Amber told Penny that money was tight for us, and was not sure if we could pay the tuition, however, Penny and Dan still wanted to give Kaleb and us a chance at a happy life. We would be lost if Kaleb wouldn’t have gotten another chance at life. We had to go up the same day to the behavior center to have a counseling session, Amber went with us. I will never forget the look on Kaleb’s face when I had to tell him about him going to Jacob's House. He was so angry and said hurtful things to make me feel bad. I held him tight and apologized for everything I had done in the past. I still blamed our past for his doings. The counselor told me not to let him put the blame on us because it was years ago and the last 3 years we tried everything to make it up to him, but he made it hard. The counselor said he knew this could happen if he continued doing what he was doing. But Kaleb couldn’t accept it because he didn’t think it would ever happen.
The behavior center took taken him to Jacob’s House after he was released. We couldn’t have any contact with him for 30 days. It was different for Allen and I. We really had to learn how to live life in a different way. We felt lost at first, no more going day to day with the worry we had. I cried for a while, asking myself what we could have done different with Kaleb to make him better. And there was nothing. It was hard to hear Albany talk about him and hear her say, “Kaleb needs to be good so he can come home.” It was hard not to cry in front of her.
Allen kept reminding me that things were going to get better from now on. Kaleb was going to get better and that’s all we wanted. It made it easier. I didn’t talk to my mom for a long while. We realized during that time of not speaking that Kaleb had played both of us and made us believe it was one another’s fault for his doings. My mom blamed me for a long time. I finally broke down and talked to her. Asking her why I was to blame. She apologized to me. She didn’t really realize how bad Kaleb was getting. We started getting close once again. She was happy and relieved too that he was accepted at Jacob's House. His brother was mad at me for a long time. He said he was just being a kid. We didn’t talk for a long time either but when we finally did, we talked about Kaleb. He had not seen how Kaleb was really, Eric only saw some things and believed everything Kaleb would say about us. He later apologized to me when he realized we did this to save Kaleb’s life.
When I finally got to hear from Kaleb, it was a phone call. He begged me to get him out of there. He promised he would do better and listen to me more. I asked him if he knew why he was in there. He blamed us as always, but I stayed strong this time. I thank God every day for Amber, Penny and Dan. I prayed at first to give them the strength to put up with Kaleb, we weren’t for sure how he was going to be as Jacob's House has a 30 trial period. He still had outbursts and still thought he could do what he wanted. We went the next weekend to see him. Penny and Dan allowed us to take him out. We had lunch and went to the river. He asked me when he got to come home. I cried and told him, not for a while. I knew he wasn’t ready and we weren’t ready. I could sleep at night knowing that he is safe. Allen and I laughed and talked more. I was doing better in school. I didn’t have to wonder day to day what he was going to do next.
It has been 17 months and Kaleb is still living at Jacob’s House. We see different changes that Kaleb has made every time we hear or see him. I was so amazed the first time I had ever heard Kaleb say please, thank you and may I. He still has his moments, but there wasn’t yelling or stomping away. It may still take Penny and Dan a few times to tell Kaleb to do something, but he gets it done. They have taught him how to control his temper. He is doing better in school. His biggest achievement is he does not have to take medications anymore. It was scary the first time Penny said she was going to wean him off of them. She didn’t like giving children medication and felt he had come far enough to try it without meds. I didn’t like giving him medication either so we agreed. When I see him now, he’s a normal kid. Penny and Dan are some amazing people. They pray for us in every prayer and they pray for good things to come our way because they believe in big dreams.
Our dreams were finally coming true. The life we always wanted was happening. Good things, finally. It was hard at times to make this life happen for us. We had to work hard and go through life’s obstacles. It made Allen and I closer than ever. Allen and I have been clean for more than 4 years now. We always talked about getting married and almost did a few times in the beginning. I cried so much when he got down on one knee and asked me if I would marry him, I knew this time it was for real when he slipped my ring on my finger. We were married Aug 9th 2014. I was the happiest women alive.
Kaleb didn’t get to attend because he was grounded, it saddened us but we couldn’t let it get to us. We were learning to stand our ground side by side with Jacob's House to help him make the changes forever. It was our day and we waited for it a long time. Then Allen opened his own business, it was one of his dreams and he made it happen. I was working on getting my high school diploma. My head was clear at last from what had happened and now I’m one test away from getting it. We were bettering our lives and the life of our son. For once in our lives Allen and I could be proud of ourselves. We are doing better than we have ever thought we could. We just moved into a beautiful house in the country where Albany and Leo (our dog) now have a big yard to run and play in. We all have our own rooms and we don’t have to worry anymore about Kaleb getting into trouble when he gets to come home for visits.
Jacob's House and Penny and Dan have made one of our biggest dreams come true, Kaleb has become a new kid. He still has his moments, but not like before. When Kaleb and I talk now, it’s about his dreams and how he is accomplishing them. He has a wonderful attitude about life now. Before he had nothing but bad things to say. Now everything he says is good. He is doing good in school. He had a hard time getting along with his peers before. Now he tries to get along with them. He knows now that what he was doing before was the reason he can't live at home. I can wrap my arms around him and not get pushed away. Before he would do good, and do what he was told until he got what he wanted. Now he knows he has to earn what he wants and he knows it will be taken away if he stops doing the right thing. He talks to us with respect. He loves to skateboard, he always has. Before jacob's House, he was the kid that gave up easily. Now he doesn’t easily give up. He knows he has to try no matter how hard it is. He’s happy again. He’s the boy I always knew he was.
The changes in Kaleb have given my family and I a BIG outlook on life. We don’t fight. When we talk about him,it’s all good stuff; not like before. We don’t blame each other. We tell each other how much we love one another. Our family is happy again. My parents and I have gotten so close. They realize now that this is what Kaleb needed, what we all needed. We all are so proud of him. We thank the good Lord up stairs for answering our prayers. We thank him, for Amber, Jacob's House, Penny and Dan. We couldn’t have made this life now if it wasn’t for them. I see a long happy life for Kaleb and us in the future. I know one day he will be able to come home and still carry the values that Jacob's House, Penny and Dan have taught him. We all have gained a wonderful relationship with Kaleb.
We need more people and places like Jacob’s House in our community. There are a lot of kids like Kaleb that need a second chance at life. They could learn a lot. They could make their dreams come true. They could grow up and be successful.