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Foster child found stability when she found God

Staff writer

Angela Vann was an angry child. Born into a dysfunctional family in Joplin, Missouri, she was taken from her home and placed in foster care at age 5.

Her father was an alcoholic who often beat his wife and children. Her mother took drugs. They didn’t have a proper house and often were without food.

Angela proved to be a “problem” child, passed from one foster home to another.

“I wouldn’t behave,” she said. “I wouldn’t listen.”

She lived in hundreds of homes until age 18, when she had to leave the system. She was released back to her biological parents in 2000 and began getting disability payments.

She found a boyfriend, who introduced her to marijuana. In 2007, their daughter, Macey, was born. Things were fine, she said, until her boyfriend started physically abusing Macey, so she left him.

She got her own place, sold marijuana, and took care of her daughter.

“I didn’t care about anything else but taking care of my daughter and selling and smoking marijuana,” she said.

One day, she sold marijuana to an undercover cop and got busted. She was forced to go to a rehabilitation center with her daughter.

Someone accused her of throwing her daughter against a wall. That led to the Missouri Division of Family Services becoming involved. It took her daughter away, and Angela was thrown out.

As she told this story Friday, tears filled her eyes and she could hardly speak.

“I asked for proof, and there was none,” she said. “It was hearsay. What DFS did to me was wrong.”

During the next year, Angela took classes in parenting and anger management and found a house.

“I decided to get clean and sober so I could have my child,” she said.

Then, she recalled, DFS brought papers to her to sign that staff members said would authorize medical care for her daughter.

“I had trouble reading, and I signed them,” she said.

She was shocked to learn later that they were adoption papers, and she would never see her daughter again.

She decided to go back to drugs. She met a truck driver from Marion and agreed to come back with him to Marion.

“I had nothing left,” she said.

He had four children. When she found him in bed with another woman, she left him. She joined Circles, a local organization designed to help people get out of poverty and learn life skills.

“It really did help me,” she said. “It showed me a different way of living.”

Norma Duerksen, pastor at Trinity Mennonite Church, became her mentor and helped her get an apartment at Grand Oaks Apartments in Hillsboro.

Angela graduated from Circles in 2016 and started dating a man who was free of drugs.

“We go to church and we have God in our life,” she said. “It’s wonderful to have a church to go to.”

She has been secretary at Trinity for almost three years. She joined the church about a year ago, an experience that led her to tears, she said.

“I finally found peace in this town, where I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not. It’s my home.

“Since I moved down here 13 years ago, everything has changed. I found God in my heart. He said, ‘You can forgive people and still not forget.’”

A weekend at Women’s Encounter helped her to forgive even more.

At age 35, she now has a driver’s license and owns a car.

“Life is great,” she said. “Everything is going good. I just wish I could see my daughter and put my arms around her and tell her I love her.”

Her daughter is 15.

Last modified May 12, 2022

 

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