Bonds Beyond Bars: VOA Texas Mothers & Infants Nurturing Together Program

Step into a unique program helping incarcerated expectant moms in Texas. They join at seven months pregnant, learn about childbirth and parenting, and bond with their babies for three months. Then, they plan for their child’s care with trusted guardians before returning to jail. Explore their inspiring stories of love and resilience.

Sheila Hiedeman

Q: Why are you incarcerated?

A: I was sentenced to 30 months for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute Fentanyl.

Q: How did you learn about the VOA Texas MINT program?

A: I heard about the MINT program during my pretrial when I was pregnant with my twins. I was sentenced and separated from them when they were four months old. I found out a month into being incarcerated again, that I was pregnant again. I sat five months in a holding facility in Wisconsin until I was transported to Federal Medical Center Carswell Fort Worth, TX. I was there for three months and was finally transferred to the MINT Program in Fort Worth.

Q: Tell us about your pregnancy and/or baby?

A: A few weeks after being transferred to the MINT Program I delivered Kehlani by C-section. She is everything! She’s so beautiful! She sleeps well and I am so in love with her.

Q: How many other children do you have?

A: I have six other children.

Q: What are you learning in the MINT program?

A: Since being in the MINT program I learned skills and tools to re-establish myself as a woman, wife, and mother.

Q: After the program will you be released from prison?

A: I’m not sure exactly when I’m going to be released. And I’m not sure that I’m ready or if I have come to terms yet with separating from my daughter. But when my time is up here my husband will come get Kehlani. Right now, I have over a year left of my sentence.

Q: How has the MINT program changed your life?

A: Everything about my pregnancy and having a baby while being incarcerated is such a sensitive topic. This program is a blessing. You live and you learn. I will take everything I’ve learned and apply it to my life and in the community.

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