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Poverty, Health, Drug Abuse, Family
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North America
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Children, Youth, Substance Abuse, Drugs, US
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The story follows the path of Destiny, the young daughter of a mother addicted to crack cocaine.
Yanina Manolova

2009 — student

About Yanina Manolova

Yanina Manolova is a visual journalist, based in the USA. A native of Bulgaria, she received her BFA in education and minor in speech pathology at Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski". In 2000 she moved to the United States and in 2010 she earned MA in photography at Ohio University's School of Visual Communication. She has worked on different projects in Africa, Latin America, Europe and USA.

Her work has been featured in the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and many others. Her photos appeared at numerous exhibits and she has won several international awards and various nominations including in the NPPA: Best of Photojournalism, Alexia Foundation for World Peace, Northern Short Course in Photojournalism, Southern Short Course in News Photography, NPPA: Women In Photojournalism and many others.

Since 2008 Yanina has been documenting the issues of recovery from substance abuse and domestic violence among Appalachian women and the consequences on their children.

“Among the children of drug-addicted mothers I have seen, self-esteem is so low, and they have such a lack of stability in their life, are emotionally distressed, and are very much lost..” - Catherine Chelak, Program Director, Rural Women’s Recovery Program (RWRP), Athens, Ohio

DESTINY details my experiences for the past 4 years (2009 through 2013), while following and documenting the life of an 8-year-old girl, Destiny, a daughter of Patrcia (Trish), 31, a crack addict from Mansfield, Ohio.

At age of 14, Patricia was sexually abused by a middle-aged man, who was her father’s best friend. She has been using alcohol and drugs (marijuana, crack, cocaine, oxycodone and morphine) since she was 15.

Patricia’s daughter, Destiny, has three fathers. 

Destiny’s biological father, Demondray, is an African American man, a drug dealer, who has been imprisoned for many years, and his release date is in 2017. Destiny’s White mother, Patricia, accidentally got pregnant by him. Patricia was trying to conceive for number of years and was never able to. Since she has been on and off drugs, she thought she would never be able to get pregnant. When her daughter was born, she named her Destiny, because she though she was her destiny. Destiny has seen her biological father just once in her life, when she turned 6.

Destiny’s second father is Denny. He was together with Destiny’s mother for seven years. “I was happy that Trish was pregnant, hoping it was mine. When the child was born, she was biracial. And I felt in love immediately. It didn’t matter where it came from.. She was mine and I cut her umbilical cord,” Denny says. When Destiny was 4, Denny was charged with possessing child pornography and sent to prison for 5 years, with a release date in 2014. Destiny has been visiting him in prison for all those years.

Destiny’s third father is Nick. Her mother got married to Nick when Destiny was 6. She had a daughter with him, and a year after they got divorced. Patricia went back on the street using. The child has been living with Nick and taken care of by Nick’s girlfriend.

Destiny has been changing various family environments and life situations, while her mother has been using on and off, moving between rehabilitation treatment programs, courtrooms and jails. 

Destiny’s latest home is at her stepfather’s Denny- aunt and uncle, Barbara and Steve. This is the first time in Destiny’s life when she ends up living in a good house, with a normal family structure, stable jobs, good income, and she will be signed up for a good school. Here is the hope for a new beginning and a positive look at the otherwise destructive reality of any substance abuse story.

Destiny represents a chance for a new life, with new choices and opportunities, while she faces her own obstacles, which she needs to overcome.

Through Destiny’s story, I hope to enable others to better understand the consequences for children of drug-addicted mothers. Most of these women have 2 to 3 children of whom many have lost custody. What is the future of these children? Are they going to become the next victims, batterers or addicts? Is it possible to break the cycle that is often silently passed on from one generation to another? 

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Destiny, 4, poses in her stepfather’s car in Mansfield, Ohio. Destiny’s biological father, Demondray, is an African American man, a drug dealer, who has been imprisoned for years, and his release date is in 2017. Her White mother, Patricia, accidentally got pregnant by him. Patricia has been using on and off, moving between rehabilitation treatment programs, courtrooms and jails. Yanina Manolova/Alexia Foundation
Destiny, 4, poses for a portrait together with her mother, Patricia, at Rural Women’s Recovery Program in Athens, Ohio. They spent 3 months together in The Program. Yanina Manolova/Alexia Foundation
Destiny’s mother, Patricia, 31, shows a letter, which she just wrote for her 8 year-old daughter, after not seeing her for a couple of months. Yanina Manolova/Alexia Foundation 
Destiny, 5, poses for a portrait in front of her grandparent’s house, while her grandmother stands behind her. Yanina Manolova/Alexia Foundation 
Destiny’s mother, Patricia, 30, smokes crack at a friend’s house in Mansfield, Ohio, while her second daughter, Alisha, sits on the floor in the living room.  At age of 14, Patricia was sexually abused by a middle-aged man, who was her father’s best friend. She has been using alcohol and drugs (marijuana, crack, cocaine, oxycodone and morphine) since she was 15. “I got pregnant with my daughter by a drug dealer, and I went for treatment for about 9 months while I was pregnant. He is in prison and he has never seen her.” Patricia says. She was trying to conceive for number of years and was never able to. Since she has been on and off drugs, she thought she would never be able to get pregnant. When her daughter was born, she named her Destiny, because she though she was her destiny. Yanina Manolova/Alexia Foundation 
Destiny, 5, visits her stepfather, Denny, at Richland Jail in Mansfield, Ohio. He was together with Destiny’s mother for seven years. I was happy that Trish was pregnant, hoping it was mine. When the child was born, she was biracial. And I felt in love immediately. It didn’t matter where it came from.. She was mine and I cut her umbilical cord,” Denny says. When Destiny was 4, Denny was charged with possessing child pornography and sent to prison for 5 years, with a release date in 2014. Destiny has been visiting him in prison for all those years. Yanina Manolova/Alexia Foundation
Destiny, 5, plays with her second stepfather, Nick, while her grandfather, Tom, is watching them. Destiny’s mother got married to Nick when Destiny was 6, had a daughter with him, and a year after they got divorced, Patricia went back on the street using. The child has been living with Nick and taking care of by his girlfriend. Destiny’s grandfather was suffering from cancer. He passed away when Destiny turned 7. Yanina Manolova/Alexia Foundation
Destiny rides the swing around the house at her stepfather’s Denny- aunt and uncle, Barbara and Steve. This is the first time in Destiny’s life when she ends up living in a decent house, where the people there don’t use drugs, have stable jobs, a good income, and will sign up Destiny for a good school. Yanina Manolova/Alexia Foundation 
Destiny, 8, holds her aunt, Barbara. After Destiny’s grandmother left the state of Ohio, the little girl was moved to live with her stepfather’s Denny- aunt and uncle, Barbara and Steve. Yanina Manolova/Alexia Foundation 
Destiny plays with hula-hoop, around the house at her stepfather’s Denny- aunt and uncle, Barbara and Steve. Yanina Manolova/Alexia Foundation