Family, drug court graduation give mother reason to smile

Published: Thursday, May 23 2013 5:40 p.m. MDT

Jaxon was born in January of 2012. She graduated from felony drug court two weeks later. In the months after her son's birth, though, she didn't feel like herself. Telling it now, she describes it as "an empty shell feeling."

"I had postpartum depression," she explained. "I didn't know. … I just thought I was a hot mess."

She felt disconnected from everything. She would go days and nights without sleeping, worrying about her son. Looking back, she thinks the depression led her back to drugs.

It was April 28, 2012, when she decided to get high with a friend who was using, a friend she had told before to not use around her. "I totally shouldn't have put myself in that position, but I did," she recalled.

The Division of Child and Family Services responded and Roweton said she lied to them. Those from the department tried to work with her, but she said she was "out of control" and wanted to keep using. After a positive drug test, the decision was made that her son needed to be placed with someone else and she lost custody.

"I had a total and absolute mental breakdown," she said. "It was really bad, probably the darkest I've ever been."

Her continued drug use kept her from seeing her son until she made the decision to enter a rehabilitation facility in Fairview. She wanted a place far away from the drugs that were so accessible to her and stayed there for more than a month before being placed in House of Hope in Salt Lake City.

She signed up with the Family Dependency Drug Court.

"It seems kind of selfish, but really at that point, to find myself again, I had to make it about me," she said. "I had to learn to take care of myself before I could take care of Jaxon."

She graduated from residential treatment in March and is now in day treatment. She just started classes at Paul Mitchell. She is now able to see her son every day.

"My long term goal is just to have a happy and healthy, stable life for me and Jaxon," Roweton said. "I want to be a good mother to him in all the ways that he needs (me) to be."

Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew Durrant honored Roweton and all of her fellow graduates, applauding them for choosing to tackle their problems instead of losing hope or giving up. He urged all of those present to withhold judgment and forgive.

"The fact that you're sitting (here) today, the fact that you're graduating today is an amazing achievement, because if you had not shown courage, if you had not shown strength, you would not be entitled to sit here today," Durrant said. "Derive strength from the memory of what you've accomplished."

Roweton said she does not see the point in dwelling on the past, knowing that she cannot change what is done. Instead, she chooses to focus on the positive and what's ahead.

"I know a lot of people have told me it's crazy I'm grateful for the experiences that I've gone through, because it's made me the person I am today," she said. "It's made me so much more understanding to everyone and less judgmental."

Roweton's mother, Holly DeForest, said she is proud of her daughter and the choice she made to change. The greatest part has been getting her daughter back and seeing the determination she has to be a mother.

"A year, two years, three years ago, I never imagined," DeForest said. "It was such a roller coaster. To see how far she's come and what she's done … it's amazing."

Email: emorgan@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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