My Story, by Natalia Hatchell

Going through life being a ward of the state (state having custody of you) was hard for me. I was born October 17, 1997. My biological mother lost custody of me when I was born due to her drug addictions. I was immediately put up for adoption, and luckily I was adopted at two days old. My adopted mother's name is Jewell Hatchell; she changed my birth certificate information. My birth name is Natalia Bailey. My adopted mom was a foster parent as well. She took kids into her house a lot, and we would form bonds together. Unfortunately, all the children would leave in short periods of time. I never knew I was adopted until I was ten years old. My adopted mother’s ex husband died so I took it as my father passed away. I was hurt and felt like my chances were gone to be able to have what my siblings had growing up. I eventually got told that I was adopted. I didn’t know what that meant, so my adopted mom explained it to me. My world shattered afterwards. From that day on my heart was heavy, feeling betrayed and lied to.

After a short amount of time after getting told I was adopted, my adopted mother told me that I would never be loved and that my biological mother was a crackhead and she didn’t want nor love me. Low self-esteem played a big role in my life; I felt unloved and lost. Eventually I got put into foster care because my adopted mother claimed she needed help because she felt as if I was out of control and she was an elder. Switching schools often and going from different homes to group homes and hospitals took a big part of my life. I didn’t have a family, so I didn’t know what stability or love were. The doctors that saw me would diagnose me with different disabilities. Feeling like you don’t belong and unwelcomed as a child is hard. All I ever wanted was a family and love. I would look in all the wrong places for it, which eventually got me in bad situations. Some of my placements were nice, for example Appalachian Children’s Home (ACH) and Bellewood. I formed bonds with all of my staff there; it was hard for me to leave. I was diagnosed with attachment disorder when I was younger, which plays a big part in my life. It’s hard for me to let people out of my life. Over time I learned how to cope with it. Every child of the state has the option to recommit to the state or to leave and go on with their life.

Leaving state to me at eighteen was the perfect decision; I had the perfect plan. I got enrolled in this program called YouthBuild Louisville and they helped me get my GED and different certificates I can use in life. Before YouthBuild I was homeless and lost in the world, and I felt as if I would never have anything. I gained hope, strength, and stability at YouthBuild. The staff was very supportive to everyone and they pushed us to chase are dreams and to get our GED. I obtained my GED within six months. An offer got presented to participate in a program called Project Life, which helps children that have recently been in state’s care get housing. Project Life gives you a voucher to be able to get an apartment. You can only stay in the program for a year. While you participate in the program you have to have a job or work towards getting one and have to be able to pass a drug test.

Currently I go to the Kentucky Youth Career Center, where I’m in the Internship Academy program. KYCC has a lot to offer youth. KYCC helps you obtain your GED, plus SummerWorks and Workforce Ed. The Internship Academy lasted for seven weeks. I am placed at Spalding University during my seven weeks. My position there will be job shadowing the director of the CNA program that is offered there.  I also recommitted myself to state’s care because I didn’t want to become homeless after I got out of Project Life. I also have a new apartment, but it’s through the NECCO program. The rules are a lot more detailed and they hold you accountable for everything you do. I can honestly say I’m happy and a bright future is ahead for me. Words of wisdom to my age group would be never give up and have faith in yourself. Have faith to not be like everyone else to not feed into drama/negativity. When times get hard never say you can’t accomplish your goal; you can do anything you put your mind to. The sky isn’t the limit you can actually go higher than that if you choose to.