My life just felt like it was going down hill, you know.
Then, I had a heart attack and I guess that woke me up.
I had to learn how to walk and talk and do a lot of things.
I still have problems with the handwriting.
Mostly I do a lot better.
I don’t think about it.
I don’t dwell on things.
I was thankful I was here.
I felt bad my kids went through all this pain seeing me suffer.
That hurt me worse than anything.
I wasn’t being able to release my good feeling because I was seeing all this
but they were so worried about me all the time.
I was focusing more on them worrying about me than me getting better.
Without Sherri I wouldn’t have come this far.
I would not have come this far.
She’s been a part of all of it.
It makes me just go forward all the time.
Oh, she’s helped me with so much.
Besides her being there and her checking on me and helping me and answering all my
questions--which I don’t remember what questions I had--but I know every time I had
one, Sherri answered it and I felt better after talking to her about it.
I can still just call her any time I have anything and she takes time to explain everything
to me and talk to me.
When my mom passed away she helped me a great deal.
I just feel very blessed having Sherri, I’m sorry.
She got me the walker so I could start walking better and the chair for my bathtub so I could
sit in the bathtub and take my own bath and the bar for the bathtub so I could get in and
out of the bathtub.
She knows how much my kids worry about me and she got me this Lifeline and that just helped a
great deal and that took a load--a big load off of them and me, of course.
This is a wonderful organization I didn’t even know existed before.
I didn’t even know how Sherri showed up on my door.
I still don’t know.
I know she’s told me but I don’t remember.
Evidently when Arrie was in the hospital her social worker
there referred her to DHS for ADvantage.
We got the paperwork after they interviewed her at the hospital.
So, I came to her home shortly after she came home and she was like, “Where did you come from?”
It’s because of this service that so many people
are able to get things that they’ve always needed.
Like for Arrie, she’d had strokes, she’d had heart
attacks--the ADvantage Waiver Program is one of the programs that will keep the elderly
in their home as long as they can, as safely as possible.
There are a lot of people who don’t make a lot of money,
even retirement money and they can’t afford everything.
They can’t afford incontinence supplies and ADvantage provides that.
They fall but they can’t afford the button to help them get up.
ADvantage pays for Link to Life so that they have that emergency button for help.
You know, they have things like Meals On Wheels that they provide for these people
that don’t even have money to buy food.
I mean, it’s an awesome service that people need to know about that can benefit them and keep
them safe and keep them in their own home which is where they want to be.
I don’t know, I just look at life so different.
I can’t do as much as I want to do.
I enjoy things more.
I feel safe.
I feel very blessed and I feel better.
♪ Music ♪
So, we first got married Christmas Day, 1993 in Ghana.
I was in my final year of med school at that time.
By God’s grace, come 1995, we’re expecting.
We were so excited we realized it was a son.
It was going to be a boy.
So, we were really excited.
March 9, 1996 we had our first boy and that was Amos Jr. When I finished residency, by God’s
Grace, we got a job here in Oklahoma City with the Mary Mahoney Memorial Health Center.
That’s where I got a job.
We’ve always had a heart for adoption and I believe my passion is to see that children
reach their maximum potential despite their challenges
be it physical, mental, emotional--whatever challenges children have.
When we moved to Oklahoma City, we still had this heart to help kids
and we got interested in foster care.
So, we went for the classes and all that and got approved to be a foster home.
We had been to some adoption classes prior during the time of foster care because we knew
sometimes you could foster a kid and adopt eventually.
Shaji Poulu, he was our adoption caseworker and he was really a nice guy.
He mailed to us regularly the list of kids up for adoption.
I got a call in March or February from Shaji that we had been approved to adopt and we
were like, “Yes!” Right from the get go when we met them at that McDonald’s there was that
connection and I was happy for them.
And I was happy myself.
We also told Amos about it, you know, you’re going to get a brother and sister.
They’re going to come first to stay with us for a while just like we did the foster care and
see if we are both compatible.
I think that right from the get go I loved them.
I did and Amos did too.
We did, right from the go but like anything else,
it grows better and better and deeper and deeper as the days go by.
Micah and Trinity, you know, it’s so amazing to see these kids
blooming and unfolding and seeing the different attributes.
We are from different parts, you know,
of the world but God brings us together and we all connect.
If you ask our church members, our friends, family--when you see us with the kids unless
someone tells you, you would think that we had been together right from the beginning.
This just must be the work of God.
♪ Music ♪
There had been a history of non-payment of child support.
We had a court order from 1997 and the boy’s father just didn’t ever pay.
All I could do is make the situation more adversarial.
When I took it to court, that really didn’t help the conflict either
but that’s all I could really do.
I pretty much gave up I wasn’t going to do anything more.
But I was bothered by the fact that these two boys were not being supported by their father
and if they ever asked, “Did he support us?” I would say, “No.”
And if they asked, “Why didn’t you make him?” Why didn’t I?
I thought, well, there’s one more thing I can do; I can file with DHS.
They’re in Pride of Broken Arrow Marching Band which has a cost of about $1,400.00 a year.
When we can use that money to go towards something like that and
we don’t have to take it out of our regular budget.
It’s such a relief.
It’s also a relief in terms of emotionally,
I don’t feel bad because I feel like I’m letting him of the hook for his boys.
I would feel like I was cheating them and for me to be able to say,
“Yes, of course. You have to do that.” It’s such a relief to me.
When they contacted me about the case, it was very quick after that that they were able to get
with him and start working with him.
Working with him is not something I could do.
When it’s with someone who is more neutral and very professional and
has been through this before, knows exactly--I mean I’m sure there are so many times when
caseworkers run into the same situations and the same roadblocks
and they have to tools to get past them.
I didn’t want to show them the bad example of just giving up
on something that you really should stand up for.
It is there.
It is for them.
I can see that they are looking at opportunities and seeing that they can do things.
Rather than just the basic--I go to school, I come home, they are learning that it pays off to do
the extra things, go the extra mile and pursue their talents.
They both have, like all kids, they have specific talents that need to be encouraged.
It needs to be encouraged in all kids.
♪ Music ♪
One of the most terrifying moments was my husband was working out of state.
He had fallen off a roof of a barn that they were building and hurt himself pretty bad.
He got home and he had almost lost his life.
At this point, I’m thinking well, if he did lose his life, what would I do?
I have three children and I don’t have a career and that is a very scary feeling.
So, that’s when I decided that going to school would probably benefit me and my family.
Without DHS helping me I would not have been able to continue my education.
I cannot afford to pay the weekly fees that are outlandish and
DHS helps me with that because they cover what I cannot pay.
Still at the same time, I get that quality daycare.
As a mom that makes me feel good because not being able to provide for your children
is very scary and the thought of that is very terrifying.
I don’t ever want to have that feeling that I can’t put food on the table or
that I can’t buy my children clothes for school.
So, in order, you know, for me to feel better about that I go to school and
DHS helps me with that and I am able to better myself for them.
You just have to get out there and you have to put your feet down and
you have to just charge at it because nobody’s going to help you.
You have to help yourself.
You’re the only person that can change what’s going on in your own world and
you have the power to change anything.
I can provide them with stability and security.
They have a set routine every day and that right there ensures their comfort and
their, I don’t know, their well being almost, you know.
I absolutely am grateful for DHS and everything they’ve done for me.
They have been here for me and absolutely a great program.
I am very proud to say that I am definitely doing something with my life due to DHS helping me
and my family and I want to thank you all.
♪ Music ♪
I have never in my entire life ever thought that I needed assistance.
You know, I’ve always been self-sufficient but there came a time when I did need help.
I actually had a business, my own business and I was having difficulty making
my child support payments and I had been in jail a couple of times.
I talked to the State Attorney for DHS and she told me,
“Paul, I have this program that you qualify for it,”
and of course, I had no idea what it was or anything.
She directed me to talk to Ken Hartin with the Court Liaison Program,
the Child Support Enforcement Program.
He gave me some job leads and I told him what was going on with me,
you know, that I was homeless.
All I pretty much had was the clothes on my back.
He loaded me--after we had this interview and I filled out some paperwork--
he loaded me up in his car and drove me down here to TEEM.
The Associate Director, Michael Jackson, talked with me and right away,
just immediately I could see that they were really trying to help me.
All I had to do was follow through and just follow a little direction and
just cooperate and it wasn’t that difficult.
I just had to do the next right thing.
I had never, ever applied for the SNAP Program and it was just so helpful.
I mean, I didn’t have to be hungry.
I mean, I was going to work and wasn’t even able to eat before that.
There are so many, with the economy the way it is right now, there are so many people--
you see people that are homeless everywhere.
There are so many other people that are less fortunate than I am.
It’s just good that the State provides a service like that; it’s really cool.
I’m actually able to give of myself again and
it’s just because of the help that I’ve received.
I really feel like I’m part of the family again.
My daughter told me here a while back--she’s in the
military--and I was going through all this trouble.
She talked to me when I was in jail and I told her how proud of her I was and I told her--
I said, “Honey, I want to do something to make you proud of me.”
And, when you folks came through the door a while ago I was a little bit overwhelmed.
I went over to the phone and I called my daughter and I was crying and I said,
“Baby, here it is. I’m doing something now to make you proud of me.”
I had the clothes on my back a month and a half ago.
I’ve regained employment.
I have a place to live, I have food, I have security and
I have my family and my life back.
♪ Music ♪