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November 29, 2013

WISH BOOK: Family hopes to provide stability for baby

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Five-month-old Rylynn Janes does not want to go to sleep. Despite the rhythmic rocking, the pacifier and the bottle, the little girl sounds a cry declaring battle against her nap even though her eyes tell of her sleepiness. Slowly, her father Mike Janes finally lulls her to rest, her lips gently smack in his arms. 

As Rylynn dozes, her mother Christina Belcher tells a story that’s anything but peaceful. Chaos has dominated Belcher’s 20 years. From the absence of an alcoholic father to the death of her hard-working mother, she has struggled to cope with all that life has thrown at her.

Even now Belcher and her family of three could use a little help getting on their feet. She doesn’t like asking for assistance. Perhaps it’s her pride, she said. But her pride takes a backseat to the love of her child, and so she tells of heartache and loss as well as the hopes she has of a better future.

Still, it’s these difficulties and disappointments, Belcher said, that have made her the woman she is today. And she’s proud of who she’s become despite all the adversity.

“I’ve learned from those experiences,” she said. “And I honestly think that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without having went through all that. I wouldn’t have as much compassion for people.”

Compassion was introduced early to Belcher by her mother, Patricia Litteral, a woman Belcher said would give everything in the world for her children. When Belcher was two, her alcoholic father left the family. She would not meet him again until he was on his deathbed eight years later.

Despite having a loving mother, Belcher moved a lot during her childhood. A drug addicted relative moved in with them for some of this time, and she remembered seeing crack pipes lying around his room. Beginning when she was nine, the man began to sexually molest her. The abuse continued for two years, and finally stopped when she turned 11.

At age 13, Belcher’s mother, already riddled with lung and liver diseases, took a turn for the worse. Her liver started to fail, and without the hope of a transplant, she died shortly after.

“If I could have lived with my mom my whole life, I couldn’t have complained about anything. She bent over backward to do everything for me and my sister. My mom always put us before herself,” Belcher said. “I hope I’m half the mother that my mom was because she’s still to this day my hero and she always will be.”

Young and alone, Belcher found herself in a confusing, difficult world. Following her mother’s death, the relative who molested her sold all the family belongings and went on a drug binge. With few clothes and personal possessions, Belcher shifted from one foster family to another during much of her teenage years. A move to a new residence her senior year prompted her to drop out of school without achieving a diploma.

Two years ago she met her fiancé Mike, the only man, she said, that hasn’t harmed her in some way and that loves her unconditionally. Having her “miracle” Rylynn changed her life for the better, too. Making her daughter proud and providing her with a secure home are two of her main goals now.

“I want her to have a dad. I want her to have a stable home to come home to. I want her to have normalcy in her life,” she said. “I’m trying to better my life. I’m trying to go back to school because I want to make something for myself. When my daughter grows up, I want to do something admirable, something she would look up to.”

Obtaining that high school diploma also gives something for Belcher to work toward. An Ivy Tech program offers her this chance. Without a car, transportation, though, remains an issue, and she could use some way of getting to the classes.

After she obtains her GED, the 20-year-old wants to go to college and pursue a career that works with children, perhaps as a probation officer, counselor or social worker. All have helped her deal with the abuse and tough times in her past, and she hopes to do the same for others.

“I’ve been through not everything, but I’ve been through a lot. I’ll be able to say, ‘I might not know exactly what you’re going through but I can tell you what I’ve been through and can help you get through it,’” Belcher said. “It would be my way of giving it back because there were so many people who contributed to me being something more.”

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