SAN ANTONIO – When she was growing up, Tiffany Harper said Mother’s Day was “just another day.”
Harper said her parents were both heroin addicts, so she started using drugs at age 14.
“It was just normal to do those things,” she said.
Her parents didn’t live to see their grandson, Matthew, who was born a year ago with heroin in his system.
By then, his mother was undergoing drug treatment, so she was allowed to see him only on a limited basis in the neonatal intensive care unit at University Hospital.
Harper said it was hard to watch her newborn suffering from tremors and screaming in pain during his withdrawal.
She said after her addiction left her homeless and living in a drainage culvert during her pregnancy with the baby’s father, she asked herself, “How am I supposed to take care of a child when I can’t even take care of myself?”
After giving birth, she said, Child Protective Services stepped in and placed her baby with her sister after he was released from the hospital.
CPS also referred her to Bexar County Family Drug Court for an intensive, yearlong program.
“I was willing to do anything to get my son back,” Harper said.
In a ceremony Thursday with a Mother’s Day theme, Harper and Matthew will be among the 14 graduates representing 11 families who have been reunited with 32 children through Family Drug Court.
She said when she was addicted, “I walked around in the cold my whole life. I finally got that warm blanket.”
“I believe God allows things to happen to make us who we are,” Harper said. “This allowed me to experience what I experienced to help other people.”
Harper said she wants to go back to school to become a licensed drug counselor.
Her Mother’s Day will be spent at Casa Mia, a transitional home for mothers such as herself, where she and Matthew now live.
“It’s going to be great,” Harper said now that her son has given her a sense of purpose and a reason to live a clean and sober life.
“I made a mistake, but what I do afterwards is what counts," she said.