August 7, 2013
Twenty-year-old Will Seward sips coffee at the start of his day. His mom, Carol, describes Will as kind and eager to please. She says he has occasionally struggled with mental health issues. In moments of crisis, he has heard voices telling him to hurt himself. Lately, though, he’s been in good health. He has trouble remembering what he is told and understanding complicated ideas. When his middle school principal suspended Will from class for a week, Will forgot and showed up for class anyway. His emotional and mental age is much younger than his chronological age, she says.
Carol hugs her son RJ before she leaves on a road trip to Chena Hot Springs, near Fairbanks, with other family members. RJ chose not to go along. Carol says family trips have been wonderful times for her kids over the years because they force them to spend time together. Since returning from commercial fishing with Carol’s birth son, Gifford Benoit, earlier in the summer, RJ often retreats to his bedroom. Three of Carol’s adopted children -- RJ, Kellen and Will -- have the same birth mother. Their mother was originally from King Cove, far down the Alaska Peninsula. She lived on the streets of Anchorage until she died in 1999 at the age of 38.
Ariadne Schablein, who goes by Ari, is living out of a suitcase in the first weeks after moving back into her mother’s home. Ari returned at the end of June. Carol had kicked her out of the house nine months earlier for refusing to follow family rules. When Ari first returned, she didn’t know she was pregnant, but she began to suspect it soon after. The pregnancy is one of the reasons Carol allowed her to stay.
Ari considers her pregnancy
You’ve been clean for three months now. Is it going to stick?
Ari: I’m content that it will, because I’m more receptive to learning the stuff in treatment. I’m voluntarily doing it, but I’m doing it because my mom wanted me to do it and because I’m pregnant. Before I didn’t get much out of treatment centers. Like, I did, but I didn’t.
What do you think about having the baby? Are you excited? Scared?
Ari: I’m nervous.
There was a period where you weren’t clean but were pregnant. Are you worried about that?
Ari: A little bit. I’ve talked to all my providers and doctors in treatment and they said everything I was using should be out of the system.
What do you ask them?
Ari: I ask about the heartbeat. Does it sound regular? Anything irregular at all? I know the side effects and everything, but for physical appearances, I don’t think there’s going to be any problem there. Just because when I was using (drugs) it wasn’t arms and legs. It was still a little pod. But I know that’s the brain cells and everything. There could be some questions. I talked to all my doctors about the medication I’m on now ... basically vitamins, because I quit taking my anti-depressant. They just put me back on my anxiety pill. They said it’s safer because I’m almost in my third trimester, but it shouldn’t have much damage on brain or anything like that.
The drugs you used shouldn’t do much damage to the baby’s brain?
Ari: I mean, they do. But the way they explained it, it wasn’t all-the-way developed. There could be a little learning disability. But I mean, that’s something you can work on. It shouldn’t be a missing eye or a missing leg or something like that.
Why were you on medication?
Ari: I was prescribed them for my depression and anxiety and my PTSD.
You have PTSD? What from?
Ari: Past relationships and using substances. Just abusive relationships. Not all physical. Some were verbal and mental. I always pick the winners.