From teen mom to career health professional and nonprofit founder, Dretona Maddox, DSW-C, BSN, RN, PHN, LCSW, has used her education and personal background to educate and inspire others. As seen on Season 5 of OWN Network’s “Black Love” series, she is using her platform to uplift Black families and advocate for teen mothers who need a support system.
Maddox knows firsthand what it feels like to need a helping hand outside of the home to overcome difficult circumstances. Losing her mother to suicide at age four, running away from the foster care system at fourteen, and becoming a teen mom at fifteen could’ve easily deterred her from succeeding. However, Maddox was determined not to let these obstacles dictate her future. She has created a life for herself and her family and became a nurse social work practitioner, teen parent advocate, bestselling author and television personality.
Today, she is determined to help struggling minority mothers who need the support she wished she had at their age. With this mission in mind, in 2006 she founded Purposely Chosen Inc, a nonprofit organization committed to helping displaced teen moms keep their babies through non-stigmatizing support, advocacy and parenting education.
Instead of shunning young mothers, Maddox wants to help them navigate the emotions of the damage inflicted by parents and systems of care in their response to unexpected pregnancies. She describes the objective of Purposely Chosen is “For teen moms to stand up, feel empowered and not be shameful. Although we are not promoting teen pregnancy, we are advocating for the ones who need proper care.”
Currently, the moms that Purposely Chosen serves are all pregnant and parenting teens in foster care. Additionally, the charity has two maternity homes that house up to twelve parent teens, where she provides aid including tutoring, baby shower programs, parenting classes, childcare, and resources for them as they prepare to transition out of the foster care system. Maddox also taps into her medical and mental health profession to advocate for their doctor’s visits and therapy options. The goal is for teen moms to stand up, feel empowered and not be shameful.
In addition to her remarkable charity work, Maddox stars on the OWN Network’s “Black Love” Season 5 alongside her husband Keith, who was also born to a teenage mother. The show celebrates Black love and the journeys of different couples. Together the California-based couple opens up about their growth over the decades that laid the foundation for their thirty-year marriage. When they married after knowing each other less than a year, they were immediately pregnant. They admit to not being emotionally prepared but they fought to create the stable, loving home they didn’t have growing up. They went on to have three biological children, adopt three more, and share their story to inspire other couples to persevere.
In reflecting on her powerful journey, Maddox references her favorite scripture, Proverbs 18:10 says “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it and they are safe.” She says this is her favorite scripture because it is her security. In that same regard it speaks to how she was Purposely Chosen to provide a safe place and be a positive impact to those that need protection and the understanding of their purpose.