Desiree Quesada shared her story on how her newborn was taken away from her because she was homeless in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, her story is not unique. Just in the city, thousands of homeless women struggle with their pregnancies, and they don’t know who to turn to. Their challenges are a result of many social issues that need to be addressed, and most people don’t realize this.
Quesada was homeless on and off for five years. In that time, she had given birth to two children. When she found out she was pregnant for a third time, she made a promise to herself: this baby will not spend a single night on the streets. With that, she swallowed her pride and agreed to move back in with her dad to make sure her baby lived a more comfortable life.
Unfortunately, she never got the chance to give this baby a better life. Before she left the hospital after she gave birth, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services deemed her unfit to support a child. They determined this because authorities knew that back in 2013, she was begging for money on the side of the freeway with her daughter in tow. With that, they took her baby, put him in foster care, and put him up for adoption.
Five years later, Quesada still hasn’t seen her son. She lost all three of her kids because child protective services deemed her unfit to be a parent. In an interview with the Los Angeleno, she confesses that her mental health was never at its best. Due to a dysfunctional family dynamic growing up, she has been struggling with her mental health. This led to drug abuse and addiction, and her pregnancies complicated her living situations even more. Coupled with the high cost of housing in the city, Quesada felt trapped and lost.
She is among the thousands of women in Los Angeles who struggle with mental illness, drug abuse, high costs of housing, and pregnancies. In 2017, the city’s emergency helpline received nearly 4,000 calls from homeless women seeking help with their pregnancies. Without a safe place to stay or access to proper resources, many homeless pregnant women are unable to have safe pregnancies, let alone keep their children after they give birth.