My name is Adrian and I am 26 years old. I have a Bachelor’s in Entertainment Business and a Masters Degree in Public Relations, both degrees coming from Full Sail University. I served for 2 years and 9 month’s in the United States Army as a Communications Specialist. I now am the founder of a 4 and a half-year-old non-profit news organization that helps Military Veterans and College Students get into the news and media industry, called TheSkyBoat.com.
Now you might think you know me just from this or that this defines my success. You might think a resume for me would be one very simple to put down on paper. Sure, that would be the case if I just wanted to be another statistic. However ironic it may be, the reason that I do not want to become a statistic is because I almost permanently made myself a statistic.
It was at a young age that I first had a thought of killing myself or ending my life. However, to really know me is to dive deep into my heart, a place that I rarely let anyone inside of to see, but a place that I often like to share unto others from an exterior point of view to help others. As much I tried to push away my pain and anger of what I went through as a kid, it has become evident to me that the need to share that pain and that hurt that was so true, is an essential part of my purpose here on this planet. And so it begins.
You see when I was younger than three years old, back when I was Adrian Douglas Gardner, I was subjected to alcohol being forced upon me, physical and sexual abuse. As much as I thought it was normal in the beginning, I have come to know that it wasn’t my fault. My mom was addicted to hard drug’s and my father had left well before I was born and I never met him, so my mother was living with her boyfriend or new husband, I just knew him as my stepfather or Phil, the one that abused my mother and my sisters. The man that stole a refrigerator on Christmas one year and the police came and took him away.
Or maybe I knew him better as the man that hit my mother, who tried to stop him from forcefully shave my head bald and caused scares upon my head from that day that lasted a lifetime and a can still see today. The hate that I had for this man was so unbearable, I thought about the day that I could see this man and end his life. I had zero peace with the fact that so many things in life could have been so different if certain people hadn’t hurt others in my life.
The pain that I feel from when I see others being hurt is so deep that you need to know me to understand. I can remember the time when my mother lived in Lafayette, IN and it was my older sister Kasey, my baby sister Nicole and I. We didn’t have much of anything really. My mother was trying to feed us, but she couldn’t even take care of herself, due to the selection of men in her life, or maybe it was the lack of care from her Mother at a young age. All I know if that our house was tiny It was in a downtrodden area of Lafayette, Indiana by the public library. That was home near the end when we were all taken away from her by the state.
But the one memory that resonates is a day that she cooked soup for all of us, well not Nicole, I’m sure she had some baby food. However, that’s not the point of me telling you this. My point is that in that moment, we were a family. However messed up things were, however little we had, in that moment we were what I loved so much about life as a family. That is the only time that I remember about my time with my mother in the three years that I was with her that truly made me happy. Most of the other memories are about how child protective services came and took me away from my mother shortly after that time where we had that family moment, or not understanding so many things.
Like why even though I was not living with my mother, was I still being taken to meet with her and having to listen to them tell her she wasn’t going to be able to see me any more at the age of 5. Or why I went from having two sisters, to living with strangers and not knowing if I’ll ever even see my sisters again. Don’t get me wrong, I was a happy kid that was just trying to figure out what life was and where I fit into this big thing they call the world. My desire to learn and understand came from my soul and my heart. I had heard about a person or an over-watcher that they called God.
So I started to listen to people talk about this God. They said he was the heavenly Father, a dad of sorts. But, you can’t see him, he is always there in your heart. I liked that concept; I didn’t have an actual full-time dad at the time. All my dads were on 6-month shifts it seemed like since I was in foster care after being taken from my mother, and my real dad it seemed didn’t want anything to do with me. But if I can have this dad that will protect me and be there for me no matter what, I want that.
So from a young age my belief started, and my walk into the world of God, gave me something to attach to. It gave me hope I guess you could say, but it wasn’t a full-fledged thing. I just knew in my heart that this God was my Savior. It was in my heart, however faint the notion might have been at a young age. It is actually very hard to describe. I didn’t have much time to think or react. My life at that age was really just a whirlwind of emotion’s, both happy and depressing.
You know, as a teenager and in my young twenties I always fell in love with girls very fast. When I was in the moment I didn’t really know why, I just knew my heart to grow to love fast since I was moved from home to home to home as a foster kid. After I was taken from my mother at three, I was in 6 different foster homes by the time I was seven years old. The stay’s varied and had different feelings and people.
I remember the first one, my two sisters were there with me. The lady was amazing, but she had so many kids there. I remember eating pizza in the oven and sitting down in front of the TV to watch Molly’s Big Comfy Couch, you know the one where she cleans up the whole room after she pulls all of this stuff out of the couch. We would get little raisin boxes while we sat there and watched the shows. As an effect on life now, I’m a pizza addict and I love raisins. They are comfort food for me. I stayed with that family for about 3 months I would say, before I was moved to another place. That was the only place where all three of us siblings were together.
From there I went to others that I cannot remember the order. I wasn’t with my sisters again from that point though. Too many bad things had happened during the time with the family that we moved into first.
You see initially the plan was to keep all of us siblings together. However, as the state and the families that we were placed with soon came to understand, we were not a simple fix and together we were a handful. There weren’t really rules when we were younger. One time I was told of that when we were still living with my mom, there would be times that my older sister and I would be found outside. I was told stories of how we had both been physically and sexually abused, I remembered some things. Other things I didn’t, but in the end it was all buried in my mind.
That’s what they don’t understand when you are thrown into these situations. We didn’t have the social skills or the education to understand what was going on in our life or how to deal with it. My mother didn’t send us to school, I was only three and my sister didn’t go. My mother only had an 8th grade education, it wasn’t really like we knew what life was. We walked the streets with my mom during the days and nights sometimes. Other times she would take us over to our grandmother’s house. I’ve heard bad and good stories about grandmothers place from multiple parties in my life. But for me, it was a place that I truly felt safe.
Nothing bad happened to me there. I remember during Christmas when Phil stole the refrigerator on Christmas, we were at Grandma’s house and the police took him away. That was a happy day from me a kid, I felt somewhat safe from the destruction that man had put into my life. It was at Grandma’s house that things went well, I mean come on, we even had a pet iguana. So after I was taken from my mother, I was also taken from that safe haven. She lived right by the bridge in Lafayette, near the Coke-Cola distribution center.
That pain ran deep in my soul, and hurt my heart. How do you just deal with that and be fixed? Well in any case, that’s what it seemed the families wanted to be done of me. It was always a struggle to behave and I had my ups and downs. But every time, no mater what, if I was good or bad, I knew one thing and that was survival. After being moved from home to home, you eventually get torn into many pieces. The people that just told you that they love you and want to take good care of you last about 3-6 months and then it’s bye-bye.
So after a while, I just would do the bad things to get them to get rid of me faster, because no matter what I wasn’t going to be with any one family for a long time. Now they weren’t terribly bad things entirely. Yeah, I stole some things, mostly food from the cabinets and tried to hoard food. Yes, I stole other things because I guess that was the environment I grew up it to that point. It just came naturally, survive or die. Not trying to make any excuses either here.
This is a small part of my story, as like I said previously, I want you to know me. There will be more to come…