Briana Lopez’s life was nothing like the lives of her peers. Her friends had stable home lives with loving parents. Briana and her five siblings were placed in foster care when she was six years old, following the incarceration of both of her parents. Briana spent her days watching Annie – one of her favorite movies – and dreaming of that ever-elusive “tomorrow.”
After years in the foster care system, ricocheting from home to home, Briana was finally adopted as a teenager. Tragically, her adoptive parents were nothing like the parental figures of her imagination. They were no Daddy Warbucks and Grace. When she entered her new home, Briana was shown the empty garage, which was to be her new “room”. Her bed was nothing but the cold garage floor. She endured daily emotional abuse from her adoptive mother and physical abuse from her adoptive father, and her mental health suffered.
At age fifteen, Briana was placed at Jackson-Feild. On campus, she finally got a glimpse of what her life could look like with access to the psychiatric, residential, educational, and recovery treatment services she needed. For the first time, she learned how to trust adults, and discovered that there were numerous people who genuinely cared for her well-being, and would help her in any way they could.
After two years, Briana left Jackson-Feild. Now equipped with the tools she needed to maintain her mental health and wellness, she pursued and completed her GED. She married at age nineteen, and while the marriage ended due to her husband’s drug abuse, it gave her the gift of her daughter. When the father of her second child took his own life, Briana fell into a downward spiral emotionally and mentally. Fortunately, Briana had a strong support system to help her get through her loss.
Today, Briana works at a convenience store and is saving up to pay for community college where she plans to earn a degree in mortuary services. Having experienced loss herself, she feels compelled to ‘pay it forward’ and help others go through the loss of a loved one.
Briana is happy with her life today, and is immensely grateful to Jackson-Feild for giving her the resources to manage her mental illness and showing her that there are people who genuinely care about her well-being.
**Note: This story is based on the real-life experiences of a Jackson-Feild resident. To protect her identity, we have changed her name.**