Motherhood, Marriage and the Military: One Woman’s Story

Lake County Tribal Health works to improve the physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, and social health status of the Native Americans of Lake County, California. It sponsors the Gouk-Gumu Xolpelema Tribal Home Visiting Program to support and empower expectant parents and those with infants, toddlers, and pre-school aged children. The Program is supported by a grant from the Tribal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF).

Faith Rodriguez learned about the Tribal Home Visiting Program almost three years ago when she was 19 years old and expecting her daughter.

“When I graduated high school, I wanted to go into the military, but I ended up getting pregnant,” Faith said. “My daughter Ariel had some medical problems when she was born. She had to be hospitalized for about a month, and I spent my whole time taking care of her while she was healing. In the beginning, the hardest thing was being by myself and having to do everything solo without her father. But then he stepped up, and he’s back in her life again, and we’re married now.” 

Faith’s stepmother works at Lake County Tribal Health and told her about the home visitors.  

“They really helped out a lot,” said Faith. “They helped me have more patience being a parent and with all the hospital visits. They gave me information about Ariel’s development and worked with us on things like communication. I liked the playgroups, and the parenting class helped me learn what to look for and how to work through problems with her.”

Man and Woman with young girlFaith is determined to provide her daughter with a better experience than she had as a young child. “Until second grade, it was just me and my brother growing up, and we bounced around from different homes until our dad could take care of us,” said Faith. “My dad was in kind of a bad lifestyle, and then he had us, switched everything around and did what he was supposed to and taught us to be who we are today. My dad is probably the best dad out there.”

Family means a lot to Faith. She wants Ariel to have a stable family and live with both her parents. She is glad that Ariel spends time with her grandparents. Faith’s stepmother bakes a lot, and Ariel likes to help her.

In addition to her commitment to motherhood and marriage, Faith is about to launch her dream career in the military. She leaves for boot camp just before Thanksgiving, followed by four months of medical training that will eventually lead to a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. Her husband and daughter will move with her to wherever she gets stationed.

“I’m proud to be joining the U.S. Navy to better Ariel’s future,” Faith said. “I’ll be the first one in my family to join the military. I like the way people in the military carry themselves and all the benefits that come with it for my daughter. Schooling will be funded for her so I won’t have to worry about that. And I also like the traveling.”

Faith’s home visitor, Trisha Robinson, is impressed by how focused Faith is on ensuring a positive future for her daughter. “A lot of young moms think about the struggle that they’re facing day-to-day and really don’t look that far into the future,” Trish said. “But even though Ariel is only two years old, Faith is already thinking about her future, about getting that financial stability to be able to buy a home and have her daughter’s college secure and have medical insurance. That’s really tremendous to see.”

“I’ve grown up a lot, that’s for sure,” Faith said about her experience so far as a parent. “It’s good just watching how I can raise somebody else from what I’ve learned.”

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For more information about the Gouk-Gumu Xolpelema Tribal Home Visiting Program at Lake County Tribal Health, contact Program Coordinator Daphne Colacion at dcolacion@LCTHC.org and visit the program’s webpage at https://www.lcthc.com/services/human-services/home-visits/.  

ACF’s TMIECHV program provides grants to tribal entities to develop, implement, and evaluate home visiting programs in American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) communities. The grants are intended to help develop and strengthen tribal capacity to support and promote the health and well-being of AIAN families, expand the evidence base around home visiting in tribal communities, and support and strengthen cooperation and linkages between programs that serve tribal children and their families. More information about the Tribal Home Visiting program and grantees, visit https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ecd/home-visiting/tribal-home-visiting)

December 4, 2017
Last Reviewed: November 13, 2017