Warrior Wednesday: Ashley Endline
“My parents adopted ten of us total, one of which was my biological brother, we were adopted out into a fairly decent home,” says Ashley Endline.
Ashley Endline was put in foster care when she was just five-years-old and was one of 12 siblings in her adoptive family.
“I grew up with a two parent household. We went to Disney World every year, really a childhood of dreams. I did fairly well in school, I was in cheerleading, and came home to parents that told me they loved me.”
And you’d never guess Ashley would end up living the life that she did.
She says, “I didn’t know I was adopted until I was 21. Not having a sense of who I am and where I come from really created a void in me.”
Grappling her emotions, she didn’t think it could get worse…Until her father had passed away in 2010 and her life began to spiral.
Endline admits, “I battled a heroin addiction for quite some years, followed by a cocaine addiction….I was always the junkie mother that would die in a ditch somewhere, and that my children were better off without me….Both my biological parents were drug addicts, and they had lost me due to substance abuse, so it made a lot of sense.”
As a result, Ashley’s three children started to suffer the consequences of her actions.
“I didn’t know how to feed them properly, I didn’t know how to clothe them properly. I did not know how to be a healthy parent. In which led my children to become in jurisdictions of the state of Michigan. I actually have two removals and probably 15 open cases against me. Umpteen investigations, multiple arrests,” she says.
Then a social worker entered the picture that changed the trajectory of her life.
“When you talk about a mustard seed of faith, she had that. She really believed in me. Today I’m a little over five years in recovery, and my children and I call each other the ‘fantastic four.’ Because to them, I’m their hero for getting clean and sober. And for me, it was them that saved my life.”
Recovery looks different for everybody, and for Ashley it looks like stability.
With a smile, Endline shares, “My children know I’m showing up at soccer games. My children can count on me to be at the PTO meetings. To watch my children’s faces reap the benefits of my recovery is what it’s all about for me.”
Roughly three years into her recovery, Ashley got an unexpected call from the Department of Health and Human Services.
“And they said, we’ve been watching your story unfold. We have developed this program called the parent partner program, and we think you’d be ideal for this.”
She went from being a child in the system, to working for the system.
She says, “That’s why I use my voice, to be able to help these parents and say, you don’t have to feel ashamed. I’m going to walk you through this. I know what it’s like to be crying on the bathroom floor at three o’clock in the morning because you love your children so much. That you know you need to get clean for them, you know you need to stay clean for them, but I don’t know how.”
Ashley reminds parents that if there’s hope for one there’s hope for all.
“There’s a whole group of people waiting to make sure you’re not the next one. I’m surrounded by heroes, I’m surrounded by warriors, everyday.”