Expecting the Best: Our Jail Ministry

For more than 25 years, Miriam’s Promise has had a visible impact for Middle Tennessee children and families. Through countless domestic adoptions and international adoptions, free counseling sessions and birth mother assistance, we’ve made our mark.

But there’s more to our story than many people see.

Since 2005, Miriam’s Promise has offered ongoing pregnancy counseling for women in the Davidson, Rutherford and Sumner County jails. Led by an experienced adoption and pregnancy counselor, the women meet weekly for encouragement, support, self-discovery and parenting skill training. The rotating eight-week curriculum helps women work through the unique challenges of pregnancy behind bars, as well as the challenges faced after incarceration.      

Stopping the cycle

Many of these women were victims of trauma early in their lives, which may have led to addictions, poor coping skills and limited positive role models.  The real tragedy, however, is that the cycle continues. The lives these women lead often are a direct result of what happened to them when they were children.  If help is not available to them now, their children will follow in their footsteps. Miriam’s Promise regularly sees the results of what didn’t work--that motivates us to do something that will.

Scarlett's Story

“I was arrested on New Year’s Eve 2005.   During the processing medical exam, it was discovered that I was pregnant--about 3 months.  I was in total shock.  I’d been a regular user of crack, not taking very good care of my health, smoking, etc.   After a couple of months of pretending it wasn’t true, I realized I needed to look for a stable and sensible solution.  The baby’s biological father was out of my life.  My ex-husband was supportive of me but would never raise this baby for me or with me.  My plans were very incomplete for raising my child.

I wrote five letters but didn’t have stamps so my weekend-time roommate mailed the letters to agencies in which I outlined my situation, what I needed and how to contact me.  Miriam’s Promise was the first and only one to visit me in person and that made an immediate impression.  It told me I would be treated with respect and without prejudice due to my incarceration.  I wanted someone who would treat me like a person.

My counselor, Lee-Ann walked with me through the decision process, never once denied me the option of parenting and helped me look at all the ways that could happen.  She did all she could to deliver the same type of services to me she would to any other client.   She made sure I finally got the medical care I needed, was with me in the hospital and helped to make sure I could deliver like anyone else, without being chained or shackled. 

I now get pictures and letters from my son’s adoptive family.  I also have the peace of mind that my decision was and always will be honored and that I am not alone.

Jail is a lonely place, hopeless and anonymous.  This type of service replaces those feelings with someone to care about you and your situation, replaces it with hope and being seen for who you are, not for the crime you committed or are accused of.

I want to say how much I appreciate the respect and dignity I have been shown from Miriam’s Promise and Lee-Ann.  I haven’t got that from many people since being here in jail; not to say I expected different treatment because of the baby.  I am in jail for a reason.

I want to share that I am proud of myself for not taking the easiest path in spite of my need not to hurt.  My baby needed more than a temporary foster home and time spent waiting for me.   Miriam’s Promise was there for me when no one else was.  Lee-Ann responded to my letter.  She visited me and really listened to me.  Miriam’s Promise met many of my material needs.  Lee-Ann was able to be right there with me in the hospital and has continued to stay in touch and to visit.  She’s held on to my personal belongings for me, especially the keepsakes from the hospital and the gifts from my son’s mom and dad.

In the future, I want to become involved with Miriam’s Promise as a mentor for other pregnant inmates.  I know it made a real difference for me and in how I handled my decision to place my son.  Lee-Ann continues to make a difference since then and to be a link to the world but especially to my son.

I have every confidence that Miriam’s Promise and the adoptive family will keep their promises to me; promises for openness and for honesty in the exchange of information and for ongoing services I may need.”

Get involved

The Miriam’s Promise Expecting the Best program needs your help.

  • Financial donations
  • Prayer support
  • Donations of prenatal/maternity books
  • Contact us