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In Elliot’s best interest? A mother’s promise 1-5

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Read the whole SAGA here parts 1-5


Loriann Morgan found herself sitting at the edge of another exam table, feeling sick to her stomach and exhausted all over again.

“Well, you passed every test but one,” the physician’s assistant at the Clinton women’s clinic told her.

Loriann thought she might be pregnant, but the tests she had purchased at Dollar General said otherwise. Hearing she actually was caused her to slide right off the exam table.

Oh my God, she thought. What about the radiation? Can I do this?

Of course, Loriann wanted the baby. But after she had been diagnosed twice with cancer, doctors told her she could probably never have a child.

At 38, she also had survived more hardship than most people go through in a lifetime. For once, the outspoken brunette was speechless — and completely terrified.

It was just after Valentine’s Day 2006.

Loriann didn’t know it then, but the next four years would be the toughest yet of her rocky life. She would become mired in a legal battle that threatened to take from her the one thing she wanted most in the world.

Social workers and attorneys would go to great lengths in Iowa’s juvenile court to prove Loriann did not deserve to be a mother.

But were they right?

Abused and abandoned

Growing up, Loriann bumped around almost every stop from Chicago to Sabula, an eastern Iowa town along the Mississippi River about 15 miles north of Clinton.

Her childhood was rough as gravel, and her family so poor she learned at a young age to start packing when the rent was overdue.

One year, the family moved five times.

As a girl, Loriann remembers waiting outside the county jail in Morrison, Ill., with her little brother, Richie, to wave goodnight to their dad through the bar-covered windows.

Standing about 6 feet 3 inches with long dark hair, Richard “Hippie” Morgan was as volatile in nature as he was intimidating in stature.

A loner for the most part, he was also a heroin user and a thief who spent a lot of time behind bars.

When Loriann was 11, a Chicago murderer nicknamed the “I-57 killer” stabbed and killed her father during a fight inside Stateville, the maximum security prison near Joliet. “Hippie” was 31 then and, despite his many absences, the center of her life.

Loriann’s mother, Sandra, was seldom without a man after that, moving her two children from Chadwick., Ill., to Clinton and back to Sabula, bartending and partying.

Loriann remembers mothering Richie, who was three years younger, plenty during those years.

But when she was 14, her mother’s boyfriend walked into her bedroom late one night when Sandra was at work. Loriann kicked and screamed to fend him off, but the house in the country had no phone.

Loriann tried to tell her mother the next day what happened.

When Sandra Morgan told her to quit trying to make people feel sorry for her, Loriann figured it was time to go.

The child she wasn’t supposed to have

In Sabula, Loriann worked as cook and part-time bartender at the Lucky Seven tavern.

One night in early 2006, she stayed up after a party with a friend named Candelario “Rio” Salazar.

Salazar was tall like her father, with long, raven-colored hair like Loriann. Like her father, he had a violent side, and had been in and out of jail.

Loriann had first married in 1984 at the age of 17, then she graduated from high school while her husband was in the military. After seven years, that marriage failed. So did the second. The last of her three unions — one that was physically abusive — ended in 1999.

During her late 20s, Loriann found herself living part-time with a boyfriend in Waukee and part-time with her mother and her brother in Des Moines. She had a full-time job doing collections and a part-time one at a heating and cooling company in Waukee.

She was partying, using methamphetamine, hanging out with people who were strung out and paranoid. It wasn’t until she checked herself into drug treatment in Illinois that she realized she was following the same rough road as her parents.

“All of my life,” she would say, “I’ve been like a potted plant someone dragged from place to place with no place to put its roots.”

She yearned for a home with no chaos, where everybody pulled together. No police, no drugs.

Despite her detour, Loriann had managed several successes: two years of community college, working as manager of a credit office, and as loan adjuster at a credit union. In between divorces, she had studied more than a year to become an X-ray technician, started her own floral design business, and driven limousines and semitrucks.

“I’ve done everything but hook and deal,” she would say.

But in her early 30s, Loriann was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Doctors told her the radiation would kill any chance of her getting pregnant.

She decided to move back home to Sterling, Ill. Then, in 2005, she learned she had breast cancer — a disease both her mother and grandmother had battled.

Loriann was undergoing the last of her radiation treatments, living in Sabula, when her baby was conceived.

She knew the night with Salazar was a mistake, but it gave her the one thing doctors told her she could never have.

From suffering: A dream for roots

Loriann worked three jobs throughout her pregnancy — two bartending, one as a waitress. Those nine months — replete with swollen feet, little sleep, constant trips in a broken down pickup truck to tend to her sick mother — brought more misery.

Loriann bled for two and a half days before she went into labor while staying at a friend’s home in Clinton.

Labor started at about 11 p.m. on an October night in 2006. The birth of her son was witnessed by a handful of nursing students, a doctor, her mother, and her childhood friend Penny Welsch.

“Hang in there,” Penny told her. “The umbilical cord is wrapped around his neck.”

Loriann’s feet and hands swelled as her blood pressure shot to dangerous levels, a condition common during pregnancy called pre-eclampsia. She grew frantic in the delivery room waiting to hear her baby cry.

“He will,” Penny promised over and over. “Just wait.”

After what seemed an eternity, Elliot Eugene Morgan cried out.

Loriann looked into her pale 7-pound baby’s brown eyes, and watched his brows furrow as he gasped his first breaths of life.

She had no idea what she was in for, but she wanted it to be good. My son is going to have roots, she thought. We will be family.

Given her past, Loriann had little doubt she would make mistakes.

She just didn’t know then how big they would be.

Coming Monday: A knock on the door changes everything.


Written by dawneworswick

October 6, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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