amazon.com/author/deshonnabarnes Amazon Paperback $12.95
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amazon.com/author/deshonnabarnes Amazon Paperback $12.95
Kindle $5.99 until 4/3/2018 price will drop to $2.99 for 7days
DeShonna didn't know how she could survive or overcome the many obstacles life has offered her. She had five momma's by the age of five. DeShonna reveals her journey of being an orphan. DeShonna explains how she had been trapped by her damaged emotions, the abuse and fear as she continued on this journey looking for love in all the wrong places. DeShonna found herself journeying through life unaware of her true identity; she didn't understand how she could come out of what seemed to be a never-ending cycle of torment, rejection, low self- esteem, toxic-relationships and so much more.
Many times, we don’t understand the storms that life may bring, it’s a part of the process that we go through, a period of transitioning!
Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
On January 3, 1978, in a small town called Muskegon, Michigan I was born during a blizzard. It was said that my mom had a very hard time trying to make it to the hospital while she was in labor. This was just the beginning of the storms in my life. My biological mom Ruth had me at an early age. Ruth was only seventeen. She named me Doll Elaine Gee. There were many discrepancies on why Ruth decided to name me Doll. When I think of the name “Doll” I think of a toy, something that people play with. My mom said; I looked just like a baby doll.
As we go through this journey of my life it is best to inform you on the historical background of Ruth, my biological mom. First and foremost, I am glad that I was able to meet my biological mom, many orphans don’t have that privilege.
Ruth dropped out of school two times very early on in her life. She’d sneak out of windows, she’d also sneak and change her clothes when she decided to go to school. Ruth said; people made fun of her, so she dropped out of school. She felt like she couldn’t take the pressure anymore, so she became rebellious and chose the wrong crowd of friends to hang around. Ruth’s friends introduced her to pills and drugs. She became addicted to the drugs as well as the streets. Although Ruth gave birth to me, her lifestyle and addictions didn’t change, they became her priority. The way Ruth explained her addictions to me, it seems as if they were too hard for her to break.
Ruth said she would leave me at the after-hours spot, like totally forgetting about me. Back then the after-hours was called the Juke Joint. The Juke Joint is a place where she would go partying, some people may also refer to it as a hole in the wall (some may say it’s the best place to party). Ruth would drop me off with relatives for days at a time. To be honest Ruth wasn’t ready to be a mother nor was she capable (maturity has taught me to accept it and to still love her). During that time in Ruth’s life she stayed with her relatives, they became disappointed with her disappearing acts. (when she up and left me like this, they were held responsible for me). Ruth kept leaving me behind so, one of Ruth’s relatives threw her belongings out of the window. Ruth told me that she had gotten so upset with her relatives for putting her out. So, she threw me, her infant out the window. She said she did this to get back at them.
After being put out, Ruth decided to move in with my grandmother, Irene. Her mother, Irene began to confront her about her behavior. She confronted her about her disappearing acts and the unhealthy choices she made. Grandma Irene already had a house full of kids so, she let Ruth know it was not her responsibility to watch after me. Ruth’s addictions caused her to continuously walk in and out of my life. Grandma Irene didn’t agree with Ruth’s disappearing acts so, she took me to the Department of Social Services which was called Child Haven back then.
I was approximately a one year old at the time that I became a ward of the state, in other words when I became an orphan. I remember my case worker by name. Ms. JJ was a Caucasian lady who transported me to my foster parent’s houses. Ms. JJ the caseworker, placed me with an older lady named Ann. By the way, Ann and I still communicate with each other periodically though we are many miles apart. Ann has three sons. I was able to stay with them from 1979 until 1981. This quest, on this life's journey, began as I got older.
I had many questions that needed answers, so I began to look for the older lady Ann. When I reached out to her, the first question I asked was; why she didn’t adopt me? I was curious, sincere and I wanted to know details about myself. I wanted to know about my life and how did I end up where I was? I wanted to know who I was for real?
Although I had several questions, I also had one thing (just one thing) that I could remember about staying with Ann’s family. One of Ann’s sons accidentally burned me on my leg, he dropped the curling iron on my leg. I still have the mark today. I often look back and laugh at this very moment. I found out that every scar isn't necessarily bad, in this case, the scar brings a smile to my face because it's a mark of joy, unconditional love, peace, stability, acceptance, and happiness.
On this journey, I was able to find Ann in the White Pages. Years ago, when I found Ann, she was living in Oklahoma, she seemed super excited to hear from me. Ann ended up sending bus tickets to Michigan, so I could visit with her and her family. This visit took place in Del City, Oklahoma. I was afraid to fly back then, so I requested bus tickets. This happened to be a very emotional visit for both of us. I listened to Ann and her sons tell me how they received me from the orphanage. They said I had on a dark blue spring-like, very thin jacket, though it was not suitable for the brutal cold Michigan weather. Ann said, my hair looked like it hadn’t been combed for weeks (in other words nappy and untouched). Ann said; "Doll all you would say over and over was "name Doll, nickname Dee Dee" (she is the only one who can get away with calling me, Dee Dee).
Ann explained how she had to go out and buy new clothes for me because I didn’t come with any. The clothes on my back were the only clothes I had. Ann bought a lot of dresses and sewed bells on all of them, just for me. She told me that I loved church so m-u-u-u-u-ch, people wanted me to be quiet in the church because I sang so loudly, but she wasn't going to stop me from singing praises to God. Ann explained that I was like Tina Turner when she was a little girl at the beginning of her movie (What’s love got to do with it). Ann was referring to the part when she got put out of the church for singing very loud.
Today I refer to Ann as my god mom. Ann revealed to me that she was denied both times that she attempted to adopt me. The courts said they rather had seen me living in a two-parent home, so Ann didn’t qualify. They continued to give Ruth, chances, however, at that time she had been in rehab, but she escaped. Ruth went to jail for joyriding, but the police said she had stolen someone's car.
Ann said; although Ruth had battled some addictions, she still allowed her to come and see me. Ann thought that was only right. She also mentioned that when Ruth didn't come to the house to see me, she would call and check on me. Ann would say “Dee Dee she loved you”! (What I have learned on this journey is that many times people don’t know how to love especially if they have never experienced true love themselves). The time had come for Ann to move to California. Ms. JJ the caseworker had come to uproot me and take me to another place, with another family. One of the hardest things to do is detach from one family and learn how to attach to another family (later in life, I saw myself having many attachment problems).
As this journey continued, I recall that I had already gone from staying with my mom, grandma, orphanage, Ann’s and now Ms. D. I remember very little about Ms. D and her daughter. She was another older single lady, this makes momma figure number 4. I remember Ms. D’s daughter was a lot older than me, she’d always have a boyfriend around.
I remember mice running around which frightened me, I would scream and jump on things as if someone had been beating me. I remember very vaguely some dark-skinned boy who may have been a cousin at the time. When he came around, he would make everyone play hide and go get it. This was an inappropriate game for older kids. It was a good way to keep little children out of the big kid’s way. My stay with Ms. D wasn’t long that I know of.
Later in my life, I tried reaching out to Ms. D, but by the time I was old enough to do so she had passed away. On this journey, I had found myself searching for answers. I had many unanswered questions that I needed the answers to, to help me understand my past better. I wanted to know if they knew what I looked like as a baby! I’ve experienced enough hurt and pain, I wanted to know, was there anything good that they could tell me about me? It seems as if there were many broken pieces in my life that I was on a hunt for. I tried to put it all together, I tried to make sense of it all. I felt like a slave who had been disconnected from his or her roots with no memory or full access to who I really was.
I recall Ms. JJ, my caseworker coming to uproot me again. This time when she came to get me, she took me to McDonald’s which had to have been between the years of 1982 and 1983. This time I was on a journey to be placed in a home for good. I didn’t remember all that happened during this transition, although I do remember being super happy. I was finally accepted and adopted. Finally, I didn't have to go to anybody else's house, meet new people, and then face being taken from them. I didn't have to go back to the orphanage and wait for someone to choose me. I was five years old looking forward to being accepted into a family with two parents. In the beginning, my new family consisted of my new dad -Thomas, my new mom -Wanda and I also had two older brothers (which were their biological children).
Immediately when I met my new mom-Wanda, I asked for a green vest. I didn’t understand why the vest was so important then, but I do know a vest is symbolic to; needing more protection (I think of police officers that need to wear protective vests for protection or extra covering). When I think of the color green- it could mean life, a green plant (vegetation) or not ripe fruit, something that needs to grow or has a possibility of flourishing. I believe this was a prophetic message that I had no clue about them.
After being adopted my name was no longer Doll. It was a time of transformation for real. My name had been changed to DeShonna Williams, although I didn’t receive a middle name, my nickname was still Dee. For many years I had hoped I would receive a middle name, although it never happened. As I Look back at this very moment, I realize that I was stripped of my old name and I received a new name. When I think of this very moment, I think of how the slaves were stripped of their identity when they became free, they were yet enslaved mentally (this truly fits my life for real). Slaves went by the name “massa” gave them. I can relate very well; our stories are somewhat similar.
On this journey Wanda said; “they placed a picture of me in the newspaper and the article said this little girl needs a family”. Wanda mentioned that the picture the newspaper displayed was not the best, she said it was a bit distorted and mangled. I reckon they did this so that someone would feel bad for me.
Wanda would buy these detailed art stickers to put on little girl’s fingernails, she always made sure I was always dressed nice. She mentioned that every dress that I bought, Ann had sewn bells on them. Wanda would buy all types of things for me. We went so many places, I thought I was in heaven, right down here on earth.
I remember very clearly; one-time Thomas wasn’t at home when I got off the bus. I literally panicked, I cried my little heart out while sitting on the back steps with my face smashed into my knees balled up like a baby. I thought maybe they didn’t want me anymore, maybe I was a bad girl. At five years old all type of thoughts filled my head, shortly thereafter Thomas showed up. Whewww I thought, what a relief.
I recall when I went to preschool, back then I went for half days (about 4 hours). My brothers were older, they went to school for whole days. Wanda worked in the daytime, Thomas worked later at night, so he would receive me from school. I would look forward to coming home from school because I hadn’t had a dad before. At five years old, I finally found out what it was like to have the best gift in the world, a dad. Thomas and I would play all types of games. He would crawl around the house as if he was a horse, I would sit on his back telling him where to go, this was very exciting. My dad would play tea party with me. I would use my mom’s makeup to plaster makeup all over his face as he sat in the reclining chair and he'd fall asleep while I was experimenting. Thomas had jheri-curls back then, I was thrilled being able to put his hair in colorful barrettes, hair bows, and ponytails, but these first impressions wore off very quickly!
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DeShonna is a single mother of four and soon to graduate from Beulah Heights University in Atlanta, Ga. DeShonna is a mentor in her local community, speaker and an international minister. She is the founder of True Light Empowerment Center and This Generation Prayer Line.