The new federal Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities highlights Prevention as the answer by hearing testimony from Dr. Lisa Pion-Berlin, President & CEO of Parents Anonymous® Inc., and Dakotah Hickle, Parents Anonymous® Parent Leader from San Angelo, TX, who put a human face on her personal struggles to become the loving Mom she is today for her three young girls and making a difference by giving back to her community.
D. Hickles Testimony
Good Morning. I am honored to share my personal journey of help, support, strength and hope. My name is Dakotah Hickle and I have been blessed with three beautiful daughters, Justice, who is 5, Jasmine, who is 3, and Jewel, who is 2. Over the past 3 ½ years, I took control of my life and made a commitment to transform myself to be the best mom I can be thanks to evidence-based Parents Anonymous® weekly support groups. Reality came knocking on December 2, 2010 when I got arrested and starting serving time for drug possession, was charged with child endangerment and my kids were put in foster care. I was shaken to my core and realized I had to change because my kids needed and deserved a caring and nurturing mom. I knew my life was spiraling out of control: I was addicted and couldn’t stop. I knew the harm I was causing my children but felt so guilty that I did more drugs to cover up the pain. My heart ached so much for my 2 daughters and then I found out I was pregnant with a third child while in jail and began my sobriety on December 23, 2010. Hopelessness and guilt overwhelmed me for putting my babies directly in harm’s way. I prayed every day for God to give me a second chance. On February 3, 2011, I was released on 7 years’ probation but was ordered to inpatient drug treatment. I was successful because I was committed to dealing with all my demons so that I could change my life forever for the sake of 2 little girls who were in foster care and my unborn daughter. When I moved back to San Angelo with my new born daughter Jewel, I knew I needed help and luckily I began attending the Parents Anonymous® support group in my hometown every week for the next 7 months. When I went into my first Parents Anonymous® meeting, I felt so scared and deeply ashamed but through mutual support I reached out to other parents in the group, received much in return and worked hard to create positive changes in myself. I felt welcomed, encouraged and was not alone anymore because people believed in my ability to be a loving and nurturing parent. I shared my fears, challenges, and successes and began creating new solutions that worked for me and my kids. Also I call the National Parent Helpline® to reach out, address parenting issues and know that I am never alone. My entire family supported me. During these trying times, my Mom became sober and my greatest joy was she was able to see me blossom into the parent I always wanted to be before she passed away in 2013. Because of my experience in Parents Anonymous®, I built on my strengths, developed resiliency and the confidence to grow and change as an adult, mother and community leader. I will never forget the glorious day that I worked so hard for finally came: April 13, 2012 when my two oldest daughters came home permanently. We were re-united as a family and all attended Parents Anonymous® Groups to help with the transition and allow my girls to deal with their anger towards me and get used to the new Mom I had become. United with their father, we have built a solid foundation for our loving and nurtured family. Parents Anonymous® provided me with unwavering support, the opportunity to grow as a Parent Leader and I made amends to my children. Today I remodel houses to support my family, have attended college studying international business, am bi-lingual in Spanish, active in my church and want to make a career helping other parents like myself to prevent abuse and neglect, personal suffering and ultimately child fatalities. I share my story to put a human face on this subject; I am one of thousands of other Parents Anonymous® Parent Leaders who have turned their lives around by ensuring better outcomes for their families. It is my sincere hope to inspire others to seek help and support early and that this Commission will advocate for prevention resources to support Parents Anonymous® Programs and the National Parent Helpline®.