Utah mother says foster care helped battle her addiction

SALT LAKE CITY — Hanna, whose last name we will not use to protect her and her sons, said she was driving to church with her now ex-husband six years ago when a police officer pulled them over.

“My children were not tied up and they were within reach of (drug) paraphernalia,” Hanna said. “That is the truth, and they have been removed.”

Her boys, Jace and Jagger, are now 6 and 12 years old. They were taken to the Christmas Box House. Hanna was taken to prison. She and the boys’ father had both undergone medical procedures, and what started as prescription pain medication turned into an addiction to illegal drugs.

The boys ended up in a foster home. Jagger was only 3 years old at the time. But he remembers it well and said being able to stay with his older brother made the biggest difference to him.

When the boys were placed with their first foster family, they said they felt safe. They even did fun things like going to the lagoon and water parks. And while they were staying with that foster family, their mother had a difficult realization.

“Around six months, on one of my visits, the social worker said, ‘You haven’t done anything to change this, you haven’t done anything to make this better. We’re going to have a team meeting in court and I’m going to recommend adoption.’ ‘, Hanna said. “Then it dawned on me. Then I started making some changes.”

AA meetings

Hanna began attending addiction recovery meetings and taking advantage of resources the state offered her. It was around that time that she met Tracey Allred.

Allred now works for Utah Foster Care, but was caring for other children at the time.

“It was an immediate click,” Hanna said of meeting Allred.

Hanna says that fostering her two boys has helped her in her battle against addiction.
Hanna says that fostering her two boys has helped her in her battle against addiction. (Photo: Ray Boone, KSL-TV)

Allred didn’t care about Jayce and Jagger, but opened her heart to all three. The relationship was a win-win situation. Allred said that for the first time since she started caring for children, she put herself in Hanna’s shoes.

“She taught me empathy through our friendship,” Allred said. “I was never able to put myself in that side of foster care.”

While Allred gained a new perspective, Hanna gained a strong female role model for the first time in her life.

“My relationship with Tracey, having someone who, like I said, answers the phone, shows up at family events and can kind of mentor me through motherhood, has been really beautiful,” Hanna said. “It really gave me strength. It made me feel like I can do this.”

Taking care of her boys

And she did. While she was at work, her boys said their foster families took good care of them.

“They made really good dinners,” Jayce said.

And they enjoyed evenings just hanging out. But the most important thing was that they were together.

“Let’s say: two parts yin and yang, one whole,” the boys told KSL.

Hanna said there are many misconceptions about parents who become addicted to drugs, such as that they don’t love their children, or that they could stop using drugs. She said the addiction was stronger than herself. But now, almost three years sober, and with her boys living with her, she is grateful.

“I am so grateful to the foster system,” Hanna said. “I can’t say it enough that there are people who are willing to open their homes to children who have been through the wringer.”

If you have space in your heart and in your home, and you are a safe, good person, then you can do this.

–Tracey Allred

Allred and her family have now fostered eight children. She believes there are many families in Utah who can successfully raise children in need of care.

“If you have space in your heart and in your home, and you are a safe, good person, you can do this,” Allred said.

For Hanna, her boys are their mother’s biggest fans and they realize how hard she worked to get the family back together.

“We are really proud of our mom,” Jayce and Jagger said.

Allred knows not everyone can get a foster care license, but she says there are many other ways to help. If you would like more information, visit

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