StoryCorps: Out Of The 'Wreckage Of The Past,' A Family Salvaged By Love Carmen Pacheco-Jones lost custody of her children due to her drug addiction. But she resolved to "let them know they're worth fighting for." Now clean, she recalls those dark days with her daughter.
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Out Of The 'Wreckage Of The Past,' A Family Salvaged By Love

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Out Of The 'Wreckage Of The Past,' A Family Salvaged By Love

Out Of The 'Wreckage Of The Past,' A Family Salvaged By Love

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It is Friday. It is time for StoryCorps. And today - a family, torn apart by drugs, now trying to heal. Twenty years ago, Carmen Pacheco-Jones was addicted to heroin. She lost custody of her five children. The family didn't know if they would ever be together again. Her kids are now all adults. And Carmen recently sat down with one of them, Jasmine Pacheco, to look back on the time when she was an addict.

JASMINE PACHECO: I remember you were on and off of drugs. There were times where we were missing half of the school year because there was nobody to make us go to school. But that was pretty short-lived.

CARMEN PACHECO-JONES: I remember when the task force raided the house. You guys had gone off to school. And I was in the bathroom, getting high. I heard this bang-bang at the door. And the police were through. And it just happened so quickly.

PACHECO: The counselor called us from our classes and told us that we wouldn't be going home. We were separated and put in different foster homes. We had black trash bags with a few of our belongings. I was afraid that I would never see my mom again.

PACHECO-JONES: My heart was breaking because I had been through that. I had been in 13 different foster homes and knew that desperate feeling of aloneness and fear with my own childhood. I remember sitting in court with my mom telling the judge that she didn't want me.

And so when I left the detox center, I was like, even if I don't get them back, I'm going to let them know that they're worth fighting for.

PACHECO: I think that was the right thing to do. When you got custody of us, I was in sixth grade.

PACHECO-JONES: I wanted you guys back with me. But all that wreckage from your past - it never goes away. And there's still always that fear. It was like, I don't want to ruin my children's lives.

PACHECO: But I did choose to come back with you. And things changed so much. Now it's so amazing to see you with my daughter. She adores you.

PACHECO-JONES: She's just like a ray of sunshine - big grin with her little dimples that are just like yours.

PACHECO: I know.

PACHECO-JONES: Just being part of your life and, you know, watching you parent - to me, that means the world to know that your kids will never have to go through what you went through.

PACHECO: Growing up, I never saw myself as someone who could change things. And, you know, now I am doing that.

PACHECO-JONES: You are doing that. You're giving them a good life.

GREENE: Carmen Pacheco-Jones with her daughter Jasmine Pacheco at StoryCorps in Spokane, Wash. Now Carmen has been clean for 17 years. Their interview will be archived at the Library of Congress and featured on the StoryCorps podcast.

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