A Second Chance at Motherhood: Celeste's Story

"For so long I felt alone. Then I walked into a home with 25 other women and their children going through the same thing I was going through."

Homeless, pregnant, hooked on heroin. At that lowest point in her life, Celeste never thought she’d be anything but an addict.

But on July 16, 2016, everything changed. Celeste gave birth to her son Michael, and though she’d stopped using meth and heroin in hopes those drugs wouldn’t show up on tests, her newborn tested positive for marijuana. The Department of Human Services stepped in and told Celeste she was free to leave the hospital, but her baby had to stay and probably enter the foster system. Celeste called upon her mother Cici, who was already taking care of Celeste’s three older children, to pick up Michael.

“She took my infant and I definitely surrendered at that moment,” Celeste recalls.

Celeste turned to Central City Concern’s (CCC’s) Letty Owings Center, a residential treatment facility for pregnant or parenting women with substance use disorders. “I came into this place with all these women who were just like me,” she says. “For so long I felt alone. Then I walked into a home with 25 other women and their children going through the same thing I was going through.”

"I just feel really blessed to have these options in my life today."

Celeste soon had Michael back with her and worked hard on her recovery. She moved into CCC family housing, where parents can get back on their feet in a supportive community and learn parenting and financial skills. Celeste then enrolled in the Central City Coffee trainee program where, with other single moms, she learned job and leadership skills, and was able to engage with CCC’s Employment Access Center. She eventually had multiple job offers and happily settled on a permanent position at Portland’s Maybelle Center for Community. She works as a Community Room Lead at the center that builds relationships and fellowship with people living in low-income buildings throughout downtown Portland.

“I just feel really blessed to have these options in my life today,” says Celeste. And the best part is she has the confidence and support to stay in recovery, and take care of herself and her family. “Addiction is a disease. Nobody chooses to be an addict. But you can choose to stay in recovery. I make that decision every day.”