The Standard has been following Courtney Meeks and William Welch since January. Joy Diaz has reported on their pregnancy, search for housing, child’s birth, navigation of the child welfare system, and attempted recovery from addiction. Listen to Diaz’ latest story and a discussion of addiction, recovery and navigating CPS, in the audio players above.
I remember the day I met Courtney Meeks clearly. It was October of 2014. She was flying a cardboard sign at the corner of a busy intersection in Austin and out of the corner of my eye I realized she was pregnant.
I was driving in the opposite direction. So, I pulled over at the first spot I could and ran towards her. While I ran I was thinking about the words I would say. “Hello, I’m a reporter and would like to interview you because you are pregnant.”
No, that was too simple and too straightforward. “Hello, I’m a radio reporter and I would like to interview you not once, not twice, but follow you around because pregnancy and homelessness are two social challenges that I’d like our listeners to know more about. But it’s really tough to convey how challenging it actually is because people who are homeless and pregnant do not want to talk about it.” No, I’m going to freak her out.
I finally just said I was a radio reporter and I knew she probably didn’t want to talk to me but I thought her story was worth telling. She graciously agreed to talk.
Courtney Meeks thought she was eight months pregnant, but she hadn’t had any prenatal care so wasn’t sure how far along she was. She opened up about the good, the bad and the ugly of her situation. She introduced me to her fiancé William Welch and together they told the complicated story of mental health and drug addiction; the challenging story of giving birth and having your child taken away by CPS because you are on drugs.