For Emily Llewellyn, the beginning of her story is the toughest part to tell.
"I was pretty much abused growing up ... emotionally, physically, mentally."
She escaped the abuse by turning to the streets, running away from her grandmother’s home. Her mother was developmentally disabled, and wasn’t able to care for her.
Llewellyn never knew her dad.
Instead of family, drugs, alcohol and the streets became her support network.
"I started to abuse myself. It's pretty much all I grew up knowing was abuse."
But amid the darkness -- a light, in the form of her daughter, Embrace. The nine-month-old has changed Llewellyn's world entirely.
"She brings a brighter future for me. Makes me really want to work hard to provide for her."
The 34-year old has been sober for a year.
She and Llewellyn are thriving at Ulukekukui, a transitional community in Maili. Llewellyn has empowered herself, getting child care for Embrace through Kamaaina Kids, and is working as a groundskeeper at Kapolei shopping center.
"Eighteen hours a week, at $8.50 an hour. I get maybe like $125 every Friday."
That income supplements the temporary assistance funds she receives. Still, money is tight.
This holiday season, Llewellyn is taking part in Helping Hands Hawaii’s Adopt-a-Family program.
It matches donors with families like hers, who are struggling to make it. She’s hoping a donor will see how much she’s been able to accomplish and "adopt" her and Embrace.
Llewellyn is asking only for simple things for Embrace like diapers, wipes, books or educational toys. For herself, she's only asking for a gift card of = some sort, because in many ways the second chance her daughter has provided is the best gift possible.
"We make mistakes and we can't go back and take it back. What we can do is live for a better tomorrow, and make better choices."
To find out how to adopt the Llewelyn family, click here.