Empowering Teen Parents – Meet Dretona Maddox

by Classy Chronicles
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Purposely Chosen, Inc.

Riverside, California

Purposely Chosen, Inc. is an internationally accredited 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, providing support and advocacy services for pregnant and parenting teens in foster care, ages 13 to 21, and their babies. Our services currently include two maternity homes in the Inland Empire of Southern California. Our mission is to help displaced teen moms keep their babies through non-stigmatizing support, advocacy, and parenting education.

Our goal is to BREAK EVERY CHAIN of child abuse and neglect of children born to teen parents. This unnecessary tragedy is often caused by stress and the lack of non-stigmatized support, education, guidance, and resources.

We are set apart because we have a 100 percent high school graduation rate for those teen moms who complete our program and allowed to stay until high school completion. Our teen parents are shattering glass ceilings and proving that they are not just a statistic.

Within the next five to 10 years, I plan to open our third maternity home for pregnant and parenting teens in foster care and their babies. I also plan to expand our program services to include a vocational career option for transitional age youth.

When I was 14 years old, my grandmother, who was my legal guardian, unexpectantly died of a massive heart attack. Her sudden death left me an orphan. My mother died when I was four years old, and my father is unknown. My grandmother was all I had. After her death, I became homeless. I relied on the charity of friends and strangers to shelter me. I moved around a lot. My average stay at someone's house was usually about two weeks before I "wore out my welcome" and needed to move to the next home.

When I was nearly 16 years old, I was blessed with the opportunity to stay with a family in Compton, California. To this very day, I refer to them as my "God-family." The matriarch of the family allowed me to stay in her home with the conditions that I returned to school, got a job, and paid $100 a month for room and board. Shortly after getting acclimated to my new environment, I found out I was pregnant. To be allowed to remain in the home, I could not have a baby, so I terminated my pregnancy.

I secretly carried the shame and guilt of my abortion for over 20 years. In 2011, I was given the opportunity to write a program that would provide residential care services to pregnant and parenting teens in foster care and their babies. In 2014, I opened my first maternity home, and in 2015, I opened my second maternity home. Although I will always carry my unborn child in my soul, I am no longer carrying the shame and guilt of aborting my child. I believe that God has forgiven me; and I've also forgiven myself. God has blessed me to ensure that no teen mom who is under my care will ever have to decide to terminate the life of their child to keep a roof over her head.

God has ordered my steps and allowed me to accomplish a great deal, despite the many trials and tests I have had to endure in my life. In the face of being an orphan at the age of 14, I completed high school, got married at age 18 (28 years and counting), became a registered nurse, started my own business and graduated from the University of Southern California with a master's degree in social work.

I have co-authored two bestselling books, "Soulful Prayers" and "Soul Talk Vol. 3", and most recently became a first-time children's book author. My children's book is entitled "Iola's Daughter". It is a book about how I experienced my mother's death resulting from suicide. Self-publishing "Iola's Daughter" is my greatest accomplishment to date because it shares my heart and my healing.

Personal LifeShare

I grew up in the South Central region of Los Angeles, California. For the first 14 years of my life, I lived and survived the streets of L.A. I didn't know that there was a life outside of "the hood". It wasn't until after my grandmother died and I become an orphan that I stumbled upon shopping malls, universities, dine-in restaurants, etc. Through it all, I never stopped visualizing a better outcome for myself, even if I didn't know what it would look like. I just knew in my soul that pain was not my purpose in life. I believed that hurting could not be God's plan for me.

My mother was a nurse and my fondest memories were of her wearing her white uniform. I think that's why I became a nurse; I wanted to feel happy and to be honest, being a nurse brings me the most joy. The only part of nursing that I struggled with was the policies, procedures, and treatment protocols that went against my personal beliefs. These challenges lead me to become an entrepreneur. As the Founder and Executive Director of Purposely Chosen, Inc., I get to write the policies and procedures.

I love to listen to music, particularly gospel and neo-soul because it calms my soul. I love dancing because moving my body allows me to escape from the many thoughts that plague my mind. I still have so many questions about my life that I'm not sure will ever be answered. I love reading because it provides me with the knowledge and wisdom that I didn't receive from people while growing up, and even now. I crave the impartation of a mother or grandmother.

The most important principle that I live by is God, with intention, created each one of us, on purpose with purpose in mind.

Dretona T. Maddox
(909) 471-0697


www.purposelychosen.org and www.dretonamaddox.com


Images by: https://www.kimazingphotos.com/

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Reading about this journey was a testimony to the strength and resilience that women have within. This story inspires and reminds us that we do have a purpose and that we cannot give up on our dreams. No matter what the circumstances. Great article and vision!

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