Praying for the Stephanies

While reading a 2006 article about difficulties the State of Michigan experiences in keeping track of runaway children under their care, I saw the story of Stephanie Draheim.


In 2001 at age 15, Draheim ran away from her foster care family in Michigan and fled to Florida. 

After locating her in Florida, human services officials decided that she could stay there, and evidently some sort of arrangement was made where representatives from the two States would check on her well-being.

Unfortunately, this did not occur and both agencies lost track of her. 

And later, Stephanie became a star in pornographic movies--some of the work believed to be done while she was still considered a "ward of the state."

The article provided background on the girl's (now woman) difficult life. 

At two-years-old, her mom dropped off Stephanie and her young half-sister at their grandmother's house. 

Stephanie's mom then told the grandmother that she was unable to care for them any longer:

...In a handwritten letter to Genesee County Family Court, Rushton, formerly of Montrose, said her daughter, Kristen Walton, called her in an "unstable condition in 1988, asking her to come immediately and take Draheim and her older half-sister back home with her.

"I flew the next morning and returned the same day with the understanding I would care for them until she could put her life in order," Rushton's letter said.

Neither her mother nor her biological or legal father did.

One caseworker wrote in a report that Draheim had "no contact whatsoever with her mother. ... No gifts ... no financial support ... no telephone calls."

Rushton, who could not be reached for this story, told the court that her granddaughter needed to know someone would be there for her.

"This baby needs love and stable living conditions," she wrote soon after taking Draheim in.

But Rushton, who had money problems, was later evicted from her own home. By 1996, Stephanie was living with her biological father, Robert Draheim, in a Flint mobile home park.

Court records indicate a caseworker started the process of taking her from her parents and putting her up for adoption after tips that Robert Draheim was leaving his daughter at home alone and driving drunk with Stephanie in his vehicle.

Like most children over age 11 in foster care, Stephanie Draheim was never adopted. She lived in six foster homes and ran away from at least two.

"She was intelligent, but the more intelligent they are, the more trouble they can get into," said Rodger Mead of Burton, one of the last foster parents Draheim stayed with...

Looking through some of the public arrest records for Florida, I saw that Stephanie was arrested at least seven times between 2006-2008.

The arrests were for driver's license infractions, assault, and fraud.

But I did not see any criminal charges in the last three-plus years. 

This offers a glimmer of hope that she may have overcome the many obstacles she has faced since age two.

The article ends with Michigan authorities stating that they have made improvements to reduce the chance that others fall through the cracks in the future.

Let's hope so.

I am sure my life journey would have been much different had I walked in Stephanie's footsteps.

So my prayers are with the many "Stephanies," "Stephens", "Jaivers,"etc., that enter this world without stable family support systems.

As well as the organizations, like Big Brothers Big Sisters, trying to make an impact in young lives.

Because being a child and then teenager is difficult enough with parents/guardians who love and care about you--what an uphill climb it must be for those with very different realities. 

35 comments:

Miranda Hardy said...

I hope she was able to overcome the obstacles and is now living a better life. This is the very reason I plan on being a foster parent in the future. I want to help the older children that may never be adopted by being a caring role model, guiding them is a better direction. Too many foster parents do it for the wrong reasons.

Pat Hatt said...

Yeah many foster parents do it for the $$$, which doesn't help matters any at all. Sure a life like this would lead us all down another path, hopefully she's doing better.

Clarissa Draper said...

I hope she is okay. THank you for bringing us this news.

Jax said...

Ever read A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown? It's a memior of a girl's life gone to complete crap all because of the faults in the foster care system. What especially bothered me about that book, was that she had a father willing to take care of. Problem was, he wasn't a biological parent so the state took her away from him.

On a lighter note, one of my good friends in high school had great foster parents that later on adopted her. She got very lucky to fall into a family that really wanted a child.

Sarah Ahiers said...

man, It just stinks how often children are just failed in our society

Stephanie D said...

Fantastic post. So sad the obstacles that some children have to overcome.

vic caswell (aspiring-x) said...

wow. i sure hope things are going better for her.

Matthew MacNish said...

Oh man. So sad. Especially to hear how people prey on those in positions of vulnerability.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Feel bad for Stephanie and other children like her. Its sad to see them go down the wrong path.

Jen Chandler said...

I hope her life is better today than it started out. It's sad that her parents wouldn't overcome their own difficulties to try and give their children a better life.

I knew a couple who took in ten foster children, all from troubled backgrounds. People like that have my respect, who genuinely care for the kids they take in, and fight to make them realize they are worth a better life. This couple did and they ended up with ten wonderful children because of their hard work and sacrifice.

Jen

Bob G. said...

Slamdunk:
I believe they are doing more as far as "flight-assessment" with foster kids, but the "system" has provided way too many cracks to have these children fall through.
And that's only been in the last 30 years!

Such a tragic story for a person that has potential.

I hate to admit it, but I feel those in power DO think that a portion of our population IS disposable (and it's the wrong sector of our society).

This should have been halted several times...and was not.
This girl deserves much better than was dealt to her.

Good post.

Stay safe out there.

Elana Johnson said...

Wow, what a sad state of affairs. Being abandoned by a parent is the worst kind of obstacle to overcome. It haunts you for life.

Miss Caitlin S. said...

You know, my Dad has always been SOO crazily obsessed with not glorifying teen pregnancy or children born out of wedlock (though we differ a bit because I believe that children reared by loving, COMMITTED couples who are stable but not married can be okay) and i have always brushed it off. But as I age I realize more and more the importance of his words. He always says that it's the Kids that lose out- and I believe he's right.

What saddens me is that presumably Stephanie's parents knew they couldn't handle her from birth, how about adoption? At least give her a shot of a normal, healthy life :( So sad.

Love your final wording there.

Maxi said...

As one who has been there, it is Stephanie's choice…

To rise above the past and become stronger; or let the pain keep her down and weak…

Blessings to you, Stephanie…

Maxi

The Blonde Duck said...

Makes me sick.

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

That is so sad. I wish something more could be done for kids in similar situations. :(

amy b.s. said...

wow. what a story. i hope she is doing okay.

Candice said...

That is so sad. I grew up in a pretty rough area, so I have seen this story over and over again! It hits pretty close to home sadly.

Tina Lane said...

This makes my heart hurt. There are so many kids in the foster system that never get out. Sad.

Carol Kilgore said...

I grew up with loving parents and never realized the lives others my age led until I got older.

Kristen @ Motherese said...

Thanks for sharing this story, Slam. You make such an important point here: childhood and adolescence are hard enough; those kids who have to navigate it without the support of a loving caregiver need all of our support. I will keep this young woman in my thoughts and in my heart.

Secret Agent Woman said...

We all like to think that everyone starts at the same place and it's a level playing field. It is not.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

*runs off to hugs kids*

It makes you wonder how different things would have been if she had been born to caring parents.

Ciara said...

I hope and pray this young woman finds some peace in her life. There are so many children let down daily in our legal system. There just isn't enough workers or money to look after them all.

Lydia Kang said...

I hope she's okay now. Foster kids have a huge, huge barrier in so many aspects of their lives.

Janet Johnson said...

Such a sad situation. I do hope things are going better for her. My heart goes out to all those children who just need some stability and love.

terri said...

That poor girl. Everyone she thought she could count on for love and support failed her. I'd run away too.

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Anonymous said...

You can tell in some of the videos she's made that she's not really into it and dead on the inside. What a shame, cause she's a real cutie.

Anonymous said...

She certainly did overcome her obstacles it seem and got a career in adult film by the stage name Allie Sin.

Anonymous said...

She is an actress now. So there is hope after all.

Anonymous said...

Instead of feeling sorry and pray, better to just do something.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I discovered this morning that she was arrested yet again in 2014 for driving on a suspended license, and was charged as a habitual offender this time. This case just breaks my heart. Does anyone know if she has left the pornography industry? That has been my prayer for a while.

Anonymous said...

She has been out of the porn biz for several years.