The memory of a local woman murdered last summer will soon carry on in a transitional home for young, new mothers. 24-year-old Nikki Lugdon’s body was found in a burning car in Bangor, along with the bodies of 26-year-old Daniel Borders and 28-year-old Lucas Tuscano.All three had been shot to death.Two years before her death, Nikki was a resident at The Shepherd’s Godparent Home in Bangor – a place for homeless, pregnant women. Besides offering support, the home gives many of the women something they’ve been searching for all their lives – a sense of family.Crystal Babcock was pregnant with no place to go when she found The Shepherd’s Godparent Home in Bangor. “For me, I was really scared and it’s my first baby and I don’t have the support from the outside. So being here is a great blessing.”Babcock spent most of her life in the foster care system, aging out without being adopted. That’s not unusual for the girls and young women who come here. Nikki Lugdon spent a lot of time in foster care, too, though she always had the support of relatives in the background. Executive Director Barbara Ford says Ludgdon left the home with her newborn daughter on what seemed like solid footing, then slipped back into a life of drugs.”It was after Nikki’s death that it became very obvious to us that we needed to act sooner than later so that we could help these girls avoid the pitfalls of returning to a lifestyle that is dangerous for them or their child.”Ford hopes to do that with Nikki’s Hope – a transitional home for new moms after they give birth.The goal is to teach them how to be good parents and what it takes to make a successful family.The Department of Health and Human Services is also focusing on the importance of permanent family connections, encouraging adoptions for older foster children, even teenagers. The value, for them, to have someone to always call mom or dad is priceless.”I didn’t feel like it was something that was that big of a deal, having that little piece of paper to tell me who my mother was. But after I received it, it was like yes, I actually do have a mother.”Michael Augustine was adopted by his former foster mother, Susan, when he was 23 years old. A health scare made him realize he needed to solidify the relationship with the woman he calls mom when she wasn’t able to weigh in on his medical care. He says the permanency broke a potential cycle in his life.”I have a wife, I have a child of my own now. And with the help of my adoptive mother, will ensure that my daughter does not know the foster care system, is not a part of the foster care system.”Babcock wants to avoid that, too, with the help of Nikki’s Hope. She hopes to be one of the first new moms to stay there, creating a new future for herself and her daughter. “It will show me how to have a healthy relationship with her and to raise her right. I mean I want to be a good role model for my little girl, cause I didn’t have that and I don’t want to fail her.”The goal is to have Nikki’s Hope open by this summer. You can find out more information about The Shepherd’s Godparent Home by logging on to www.godparenthome.org
or checking out the Facebook page, The Shepherd’s Godparent Home – Bangor, Maine. As for foster and adoptive care, May is Foster Care Awareness Month.The state is always trying to fill the need of foster families. If you’d like to learn more, log on to www.maine.gov/dhhs/ocfs/.