It’s easy to judge when walking past a homeless person. Why can’t they get a job? How hard is it to find a place to stay to get back on their feet? But what if that homeless person is a mother, even a pregnant one?
In a time when there are over 500 thousand homeless people in the United States- and possibly many more going unreported- a fraction of those are expectant mothers. With the high cost of living, the likelihood of teen moms dropping out of school, and the shockingly high substance use rate, it’s no surprise that so many women and families are left without a place to live.
For many moms, being pregnant is difficult even when you have a safe place to live and enough food to eat. But thinking about the fact that some moms don’t have even the basics makes it harder to complain about our own pregnancies. Some moms sleep in shelters at night, spend hours during the day panhandling, and still struggle with morning sickness, heartburn, fatigue, and other conditions.
These fifteen true-life stories come from homeless moms who found themselves living unexpected lives while waiting for their new babies, and some who weren’t able to pull a life together for themselves and their children.
15 Taylor Swift Gives Life-Changing Gift To Pregnant Fan
If you didn’t already know, superstar musician Taylor Swift has her own app- The Swift Life- where fans congregate and gab over the celebrity. But a young fan named Stephanie used the app to reveal a secret that changed her life, People reported.
In her post, Stephanie wrote that for eight months of her pregnancy, she was homeless.
By chance, she ended up attending one of Taylor’s concerts, where Stephanie’s mom asked Taylor to make sure her experience was super-special as she’d been going through hard times.
According to Stephanie, her apartment was condemned for health and safety reasons, making her and her boyfriend homeless. She said that when Taylor heard the news, she said she wanted to help out so that Stephanie could enjoy her baby girl. Apparently, that meant helping Stephanie get a house and buy everything she needed for her baby.
14 Homeless Mom Happy For Pregnancy
Young mom “Beth,” whose identity Cosmopolitan kept a secret, moved out of her parents’ home at age eighteen after they expressed disapproval over her sexuality. She attended community college for a while but ended up moving to Los Angeles to pursue her dreams. But that came at a cost.
Once she moved to LA, Beth wound up with a collection of unpaid parking tickets that cost more than her apartment. She became homeless and fell pregnant after a one-night stand on Venice Beach. Still, Beth said that she was grateful that Medi-Cal covered her pregnancy expenses, and she’d always looked forward to being a mom one day. Fortunately, despite her homelessness early on and consistent morning sickness that had her vomiting throughout her pregnancy, Beth gave birth to a healthy son and when the magazine interviewed her, she was living in a transitional living center with her child.
13 Social Worker Mom Can’t Save Pregnant Daughter
Of homelessness and pregnancy, 21-year-old Elizabeth told News-Leader, “I always wanted to be a mom – but not this way.” With substances and alcohol- and plenty of bad relationships- in her past, Elizabeth became homeless as a teen. Although her mom is a social worker, that didn’t stop Elizabeth from falling in with the wrong crowd. Even her pregnancy was a surprise since the young mom had abdominal surgery that doctors said would make it impossible for her to have children.
Panic attacks and a bout of bronchitis were hard on Elizabeth during her pregnancy,
but meeting a new boyfriend (who plans to father her child, even though it’s not biologically his) and accessing the local resources in her area helped keep her spirits up. Still, as her due date loomed nearer, Elizabeth still hadn’t found a secure place to take her newborn home to once he was born.
12 Mom Loses Baby After Denied Emergency Housing
A 36-year-old expecting mom was excited about her impending arrival but feared that authorities would snatch her newborn away as soon as she delivered. However, she never got the opportunity to meet her child. At six months along, Sarah miscarried her baby at the hospital. Afterward, she returned to the streets to beg for handouts from passersby.
The Sun reported that she had asked for assistance early in her pregnancy, but that her city didn’t offer her support. In fact, she says that officials told her she wasn’t a priority until later in her pregnancy. Sarah’s experiences were documented as part of a news channel’s investigation into homelessness and the care pregnant moms receive. The show found that out of 15 undercover “homeless and pregnant” moms, only four were offered emergency accommodations. Unfortunately, Sarah was not one of the women who were offered aid.
11 Teen Parent Chooses Homelessness
Teen mom Creionna starts every day at 5:45 am and doesn’t end until around 8 pm each night, but she says it’s worth it to offer the best life possible for herself and her child. The Atlantic reported on this industrious young mom’s experience with losing her mother at age two, then getting passed along to her grandmother when her father went to prison for selling illicit substances.
Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans while Creionna was in high school and she wound up living with family who sold illegal substances.
She met a neighbor and fell pregnant, but the father of the child denied his involvement. Sixteen and pregnant, Creionna had no family support, so after she gave birth, she never went home. Still, she finished school, enrolled in college, and later found a home for her and her son with the help of local community programs.
10 Church Shelter Houses Expecting Couple
In contrast with most pregnant moms, Bernadette wasn’t a teen when she and her partner Ricardo found themselves homeless. 39-year-old Bernadette told Mercury News that her biggest fear was that she was going to lose her baby, the daughter she and Ricardo named Serenity. The couple found temporary refuge overnight in a church, but Bernadette had been homeless for five years already after a fight with an ex.
She and Ricardo met in a homeless encampment, but they knew once Bernadette fell pregnant that they needed help. At the time the Mercury News reported on the couple’s situation, the city where they lived (San Jose) said there wasn’t anything authorities could do to help. Long waiting lists at shelters and other facilities coupled with routine sweeps of homeless camps mean Bernadette may not even have a chance at raising her child.
9 Young Mom Keeps Focus On Her Career
Her ambition is an inspiration to other young moms faced with difficult situations, but when Precious found out she was pregnant just as she was starting training at a new job, she wasn’t sure what to make of it. Her pregnancy, and the father’s commitment to her, caused Precious to move out of her mother’s home.
Later, she and the baby’s father were homeless for around two months, bouncing from shelter to shelter.
But now, though they’ve discussed marriage, Precious and her child’s father are working on bettering their lives and that of their daughter. Precious covers her rent and her daughter’s prekindergarten program with her job and plans to continue her education and further her career. She told the New York Times, “I know I want to be a businesswoman. I know I want to study law.”
8 Expectant Mom Flees Home In Fear
Ranisha Eiland became homeless after leaving an abusive partner, ABC6 reported, with her toddler in tow and another baby on the way. She said she was scared for her life, but that despite having a job, she wasn’t able to keep a roof over her children’s heads. She sought help at local homeless shelters, where she was able to get back on her feet.
According to the director of The Community Shelter Board in Columbus, Ohio, moms being homeless can be worse for a pregnancy than smoking. She noted that when mom is pregnant, the health of the baby is at risk if mom isn’t properly cared for. Fortunately, programs with the Salvation Army and the community board helped Ranisha get a home for her little family and find a better job that allows her to support them.
7 Young Woman Changes Life To Mother Fourth Child
Gina DiStefano started using heroin at age 18, and by the time she was 35, she was homeless and drug-addicted- and pregnant for the fourth time. After an acquaintance told her about the Center for Addiction and Pregnancy at John Hopkins, Mother Jones reported, DiStefano sought help there.
She had already lost custody of her first and second daughters because of a relapse.
Her third child she gave up for adoption because, she told the baby’s new parents, she had nothing to give her. But with this fourth pregnancy- another daughter- Gina was able to turn things around. At the time Mother Jones reported about her, Gina was living with her boyfriend and their daughter, having recovered from her drug use and working toward a degree in addiction counseling. While she’s hopeful for the future, Gina acknowledges she still has a long way to go in securing her future.
6 Dependent Mom Struggles With Motherhood
Just before she found out she was pregnant with her fifth child, Michelle couldn’t pay her bills. She was stressed out caring for her preschooler and young baby on her own, and she had postpartum depression. The former substance user relapsed at that time as life overwhelmed her, Mother Jones reported, only to have her children taken away as she spiraled out of control.
In the past, Michelle was a night-worker and relied heavily on substances to get through daily life. She said that in a past pregnancy, most of which she doesn’t remember, she was so high that she thought she had peed herself when her water broke. A tragic cycle of depression and substance use kept submerging Michelle back into bad habits, and the entire time she struggled to keep a roof over her head and care for her children.
5 Camping Out While Waiting For Baby
Sami Basu spent most of her pregnancy camping out, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. At the time she and her partner Dustin were expecting their first child, 23-year-old Sami had just stopped using very potent illegal substances.
Despite that progress, the pair were on a waiting list at least sixty families long to secure housing in a shelter that offers private rooms.
Sami told journalists that she was tired all the time, but that between trips to the methadone clinic and struggling with lupus, there wasn’t much she could do. Despite inching closer and closer to her due date, Sami had little hope that she’d find stable and secure housing to bring her baby home to after the birth. Although social workers and case management professionals say pregnant and homeless women are high priorities, Sami wasn’t the only homeless mom counting down the days to her due date.
4 Viral Photo Changes Homeless Family’s Life
After a cop found pregnant mom Jessica and her toddler taking a much-needed nap on a public sidewalk, the story warmed hearts all over the country. The police officer immediately secured the little family a place to stay and began soliciting donations for the pair plus new baby Xavier. Enough donations came in to cover about seven months’ worth of rent for the family, USA Today reported.
Jessica also began to look for work following her relatively refreshing stay at a motel. She had resorted to sleeping on the sidewalk, she told the officer, because she had already spent the maximum amount of time allowed at local homeless shelters. That left her with no place to rest at nine months pregnant, along with her 2-year-old. People around the world heard about their story because of the photo that went viral, but there was a happy ending to this unfortunate story.
3 Surrendered Child Chooses Different Life For Son
A girl that the Healthy Babies Project refers to as “Tanya” grew up in Ukraine with a violent father and a prostitute as a mother. Her older brother ran away from home, and Tanya’s mother eventually placed Tanya and her sister at a children’s shelter.
When she was 10, the girl arrived in the US to be adopted.
Angry and suicidal, Tanya had difficulty adjusting to her new life, and a hard upbringing from her adoptive mother didn’t help. At the age of 16, following a scuffle with her adoptive mom, she was removed from the home and placed in a juvenile detention center. Soon after, in a foster home, she got pregnant- and shortly after aged out of care. It took her months to navigate paperwork and seek pregnancy care, but eventually, she and her son found a safe place to live, together.
2 High Schooler Overcomes Trauma To Parent Her Baby
Imagine being sixteen and the mother of a 4-month-old, living temporarily with your high school boyfriend in a rented room, along with a bunch of other shady renters. You can’t find a job because you don’t have childcare, but you also have to find a way to make rent to keep shelter over your family’s head.
That’s where Wendy Hernandez was when The Washington Post interviewed her for a piece on teen motherhood. She hadn’t attended high school in about a week, considering whether she should even go back, but was set on parenting her son. Her own upbringing- raised by grandparents in Honduras from age 2 but sent to the US with her mom, who was essentially a stranger, at age 12- threw off her perception of reality. Ultimately, it was all Wendy could do to continue attending high school and hoping aid agencies would offer other options.
1 Mom Surrenders Baby For Adoption
Officer Ryan Holets had his body cam on as he prepared to intervene as a couple prepared to inject heroin in brood daylight outside a convenience store. But when he approached the pair, he noticed the woman was pregnant. He scolded her about her addiction, CNN reported, telling her she would hurt her baby with the substances. Crystal Champ, the pregnant mom in the video, was agitated at first, but then she began to cry.
Crystal told Officer Holets that she had tried many times to deal with her addiction, but it kept coming back, and that she hoped someone would adopt her baby.
On the spot, Officer Holets agreed, and immediately went to give his wife the news.
The couple was there when baby Hope was born, and when Crystal said goodbye. The Holets saw Hope through detoxing and withdrawals, including methadone treatment, and now she’s their daughter.