Cradling her baby to her chest, after 61 days behind bars, Shonnetta remembers how the tiny girl shook, a lingering effect of being born addicted to heroin.
“Tears would just come to my eyes. I can’t believe I did this to her. But you know, I didn’t have will power. I wasn’t thinking as far as I’m carrying a child. (Drugs) had me so spoiled and gone, I wasn’t thinking about nothing but me.”
It wasn’t always that way. Shonnetta was a high school senior with a future until she tried heroin at a party. Her habit grew from once every pay day to every day to twice a day to multiple times a day.
She says she hid the drug abuse for as long as she could, but could only hide from the law so long. Pregnant and arrested on a drug possession charge, the judge watched her belly grow as her case wound its way through his court. The state pushed for eight years in prison, but the judge delayed a much shorter sentence to give Shonnetta time with her baby. “Leave the streets alone. Leave the drugs alone,” she remembers him saying.
She says she stayed clean for a year and a half, but the drugs’ pull proved too great. Her second baby, a boy, was born exposed to crack. Still, Shonnetta got another chance. She went back into drug treatment.
Though she stayed clean for two years, when being mom got too hard the urge to run out and buy drugs lingered. She got pregnant again.
On Oct. 9, 2006, Aaron was born “clean,” yet he died days later from SIDS. “When he passed, I couldn’t take it and I relapsed,” she says. That’s when she called The Women’s Treatment Center for help.
“Like my mom told me, God took (Aaron) for a reason. … Maybe that was to get me to open my eyes … and notice I have two other children that I do need to raise right, being a real mom, not a sick mom, not a mom that’s gotta wake up in the morning and worry about when she’s going to go get a bag.”
Shonnetta completed her treatment and is now living at home with her husband and children.