Utah mom says foster care helped, while she battled addiction

Jun 2, 2024, 11:09 PM

SALT LAKE CITY Hanna, whose last name we won’t use to protect her and her young sons, said she was driving to church six years ago with her now ex-husband when a police officer pulled them over. 

“My children weren’t strapped in, and they were within reach of (drug) paraphernalia,” Hanna said. “That’s the truth, and they were removed.” 

Her boys, Jace and Jagger, are now 6- and 12-years-old. They were taken to The Christmas Box House. Hanna was taken to jail. She and the boys’ father had both undergone medical procedures and what started as prescription medications for the pain, turned into addition to illegal drugs.  

The boys ended up in foster care. Jagger was just 3-years-old at the time. But he remembers it well and said what made the biggest difference for him was being able to stay with his older brother.

When the boys were placed with their first foster family, they said they felt safe. They even did fun stuff, like Lagoon and water parks. And while they were staying with that foster family, their mom had a tough realization. 

“Around the six-month mark, at one of my visits, the caseworker said, ‘You’ve done nothing to change, you’ve done nothing to improve this, we’re going to have a team meeting in court and I’m going to recommend adoption,'” Hanna said. “That’s when it hit me, that’s when I started making some changes.” 

Attending AA meetings

Hanna started attending AA meetings and utilizing resources the state offered her. It was around that time she met Tracey Allred.

Allred now works for Utah Foster Care, but at the time was fostering other children.  

“It was an instant connection,” Hanna said about meeting Allred.

“I am so grateful to the foster system,” Hanna said. “I can’t say it enough that there are people that are willing to open their homes to children who have been through the wringer.” (KSL TV)

Allred wasn’t caring for Jayce and Jagger, but opened her heart to all three. The relationship was a win-win. Allred said for the first time since she had started fostering children, she put herself in Hanna’s shoes. 

“She taught me through our friendship, empathy,” Allred said. “I’ve never been able to put myself in that side of foster care.” 

While Allred gained a new perspective, Hanna gained a strong female, role model for the first time in her life. 

“My relationship with Tracey, having somebody who, like I said, who answers to phone, who shows up to family events and can sort of, mentor me through motherhood was really beautiful,” Hanna said. “It was really empowering. It made me feel like I can do this.”

Gov. Cox calling on Utahns to open hearts, homes in response to need for foster families

Taking care of her boys

And she did. And while she was putting in the work, her boys said their foster families were taking good care of them.

“They made really good dinners,” Jayce said to KSL TV.

And they enjoyed evenings just hanging out. But most importantly, they were together. 

“Lets just say, two parts yin and yang, one whole,” the boys told KSL. 

Hanna said there are many misconceptions about parent who get addicted to drugs, like they don’t love their children, or if they wanted to stop using drugs, they could. She said addiction was stronger than her. But, now nearly three years sober, with her boys now living with her, she is thankful. 

“I am so grateful to the foster system,” Hanna said. “I can’t say it enough that there are people that are willing to open their homes to children who have been through the wringer.” 

Allred and her family have now fostered eight children. She believes there are many Utah families who could successfully foster children who need care. 

“If you have room in your heart and in your home, and you’re a safe, good person, you can do this,” Allred said.  

For Hanna and her boys, they are their mom’s biggest fans and recognize how hard she’s worked to get the family back together. 

“We are  really proud of her,” Jayce and Jagger said to KSL. 

Allred knows not everyone can get licensed for foster care, but she says there are many other ways to help. If you would like more information, go to utahfostercare.org. 


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Utah mom says foster care helped, while she battled addiction