In Your Own Words — October 2018

My 22-year dream come true

By Raelene Johnson, VOICE vendor

  Raelene Johnson in her home in Boulder, Colorado (Credit: Jesse Borrell)

Raelene Johnson in her home in Boulder, Colorado (Credit: Jesse Borrell)

If you are reading this and have lost your children to the system years ago, I hope this can give you hope that your children will come home one day. 

My story started 26 years ago. I was very lost when I gave birth to my son. I also had a daughter with me at the time. I thought I was a good mom, but years later I realized I was not! 

I was a very broken person when I was young because of abuse I had gone through. Drugs became my way to cope. At first, drugs are fun, but over time you lose yourself. All that matters is the drug. You don’t care about anything except more — all the time. Getting more is the most important thing. Over time, you don’t care about yourself, so how can you really think you are not cheating your babies? They suffer more than you are aware. 

When drugs or alcohol control your mind, you keep telling yourself, “I’m ok, I’m a good mom, I have my kids,” but in reality you can not love your children if you don’t really love yourself.  

One day, I woke up in the hospital to find I had overdosed on morphine. My daughter had saved my life and gotten 9-1-1 to me in time. I was told my children were going into foster care. They put my baby boy in one home and his sister elsewhere.  

My daughter had to go through the most change, because she was, at that time, more a mom to my son than I was. 

It took me years to get clean and come to that conclusion. It was hard to realize that I caused my kids pain that will stick to them for years. 

Before I knew it, the courts told me it was time to take my babies from me. I had no family who was there at that time; no one had ever really cared about me. The government in Virginia had just told me I could never be a real mom to my kids. So, one day, I had to say goodbye to Jamar and Starliana. 

That day, when my time was up with them, I just wanted to die. My babies were gone. I would never see them again. 

The years of drugs would continue from the years of pain I was in. I wanted to die. Then, I found Starliana, my daughter, and she didn’t want anything to do with me because she lost her baby brother. I knew she would always hate me until she got him back. 

July 31st, his birthday, would come and go, always wondering if he was o.k. or not. I knew, if I ever did find him, I had to be clean. 

The Denver VOICE gave me a chance to work and change my life. I learned to love myself and learned to take care of myself. The paper changed me, and I wanted to be clean if I ever met my son again. 

I woke up this year to another birthday. I had been 22 years since seeing my son. That morning, I was hurting not knowing if my son was ok. 

Later that day, I got a text from Star, thinking she found him! Two hours later, I get a picture of my son. 

I cried. He was alive and well. 

That night, my son and I video chatted for two hours. During that time, my son told me that he was proud of me for changing my life. He told me he was 26 years old and he will meet a clean and sober mom. 

I couldn’t believe that, after 22 years, I now have my son back in my life. For now, all I can do is video chat with him because neither of us have the money it will take to see each other. I can’t wait to, one day, hold my son in my arms. 

Dreams do come true. It only took 22 years Just know that you, too, can find your kids if you have lost them years earlier. The best thing you can do is make sure you are clean when you meet them again. 

My prayers are that if you are reading this that you will find them one day, like me. My heart is now whole again, and that is my wish to you if your kids are still missing. 

Thank you for reading my story, and I hope it helps someone. Thank you, my Heavenly Father, for my son back with me! May all find their lost one, but be worthy of them to come back! 

Love, Raelene ■


In Your Absence

By Habeel Harney, VOICE vendor

In your absence

The reminders continue

How your love runs red

As it pours through

Showing how strong you were

Through your laughter

You feed those who were hungry 

For life joys over pain

So I envy your departure

For now you play in my dreams

Of a better life

Of a better place

For that moment 

I am free with you

Yet your cries water

The grass

As it drips slowly

As time passes

To bring me

Back to reality

That I’m without you

My circulatory system

My child ■ 


I Think of You

By Jerome M. Balt, VOICE vendor

On a warm night, when the sky is clear, I think of you. 

When I wake up in the morning and I look up at the sun,

I think of you. 

When I gaze upon the moon, on a cool dark night, I think of you. 

On a warm summer day, when the breeze is calm, I think of you. 

When I look upon the stars, in the sky, I see your face, 

and I think of you. 


When I am sad, lonely, and blue, I think only of you. 

When I worry and want to be happy, I think of you. 

When I see birds flying in the sky, I think of you. 

When I think of the harmonies of life, and the virtues of nature,

I think only of you.  

When I think of love, I think of you. ■