By MANDY BUFKIN
“Life before CPS was tough. It was hard… a lot to handle. I was trying to take care of my mom, my sister, and my grandma. I was taking care of my mom because she wouldn’t take her medicine, we couldn’t keep a roof over our heads, she wouldn’t be able to work. So I was trying to do stuff to keep us good. But then it just got too far. I was trying to make it where things didn’t go so far that we ended up in custody. I guess it was safer to be in custody than on the street.” — Meyanna, alumnus of Methodist Children’s Homes of Mississippi (MCH).
When Meyanna came to MCH, she was 16. She had only been in Child Protective Services custody for six months, but already she had experienced four placements. “I was having a hard time being placed somewhere. When I first got (to MCH), I was nervous because I had never been around other kids,” Meyanna said. When she was living with her mom, she and her younger sister were homeschooled.
“I was used to being at home with my family and I didn’t know how to control myself around other people. I didn’t know whether to be myself or to be like them.”
During her time at MCH, Meyanna struggled with her anger. “I used to blame myself for (being put into CPS custody) because I could have done better, but I realized stuff happens for a reason and I can’t control what happens. Now I see why we’re in custody because look at how far we’ve gotten.”
Meyanna arrived at MCH only a month before Christmas. “I was sad I wasn’t with my family,” she recalls. “(But) Christmas at MCH was big. We would cook Christmas cookies, make breakfast and do activities. We would open one gift on Christmas Eve and then open the rest on Christmas Day.” Laughingly, she added, “I got what (presents) I wanted, too.”
Despite being away from her family, Meyanna still was able to find joy in Christmas.
Now 20 years old, she can look back on her time at MCH and see all the people who cared about her. “There were certain staff who really helped me. Even though I had a hard time, they knew how to talk to me. They knew how to calm me down and would go for a walk (with me). They supported me while I was here. … Ms. Allyson, my (MCH) therapist, is still working with me. I thank her for sticking around.” Meyanna described her favorite staff member, Ms. Carrie, as “basically a mom to me.”
After being at MCH a little over a year, Meyanna transitioned to a foster home before being placed with her dad, where she and her sister currently live. Through MCH’s community counseling center, Magnolia Youth Services, she has been able to continue working with Allyson.
When asked about her time with Meyanna, Allyson shared, “She’s one of those selfless people. She always tries to put others above herself. She really cares. Helping her move that care to herself, helping her realize that she deserves that care too, that’s been the biggest blessing to see.”
As Meyanna finds healing, there are still foster children who need your help. Children who will be sad to be away from home this Christmas, children who are struggling to find hope and healing, children who need your support! Go to mchms.org to help a child in foster care this Christmas.
Mandy Bufkin is a Jackson native and Belhaven University alumna. As Community Engagement Manager at MCHS, she oversees volunteers, communications and marketing. Outside of work, Mandy enjoys reading and spending time with her husband, Craig, and son, Ezra, at their home in Fondren.