Mya Jones is a beautiful and intelligent high school senior. A photo of her smiling would make it seem like she has had a great life, but few knew the pain and loss that existed behind her happy front.

Mya experienced a great deal of tragedy and abuse in her young life, but that all changed two years ago, when she bonded with a local police officer who was able to offer her stability for the first time.

Her mom was an addict and her father wasn’t in the picture, so Mya’s earliest days were spent in the care of her grandparents– until her grandmother died when she was just two years old.

“I remember looking out the window seeing the cops,” she told Winona Daily News. “I knew that there wasn’t anyone who could take care of me and my brother.”

Mya and her brother were then returned to her mother, who was still hooked on heroin. “My mom was never home. If she was, she was sleeping,” recalled Mya, who even once found her mom OD’d and passed out on the bathroom floor. “I was shaking her trying to wake her up,” Mya said.

Her mother survived that night but Mya barely did. Her mother went on to have a revolving door of men in the house, exposing Mya to traumatic abuse. Today, she still has a lot of memories that come to her in the form of nightmares: “There are some nights that you think of everything that has happened and you feel every emotion and the trauma.”

At just three years old, Mya ran away for the first time.

When the police tracked her down, they found young Mya alone in a park. Her mother hadn’t even noticed she was missing, she says.

Mya then went on to spend some time in foster care, before being taken in by her aunt and uncle and eventually adopted by them.

“They were good and nice and seemed like loving, caring parents,” Mya said.

Things got better until her uncle passed away just a year later. “It took a pretty big toll on my brother and I,” Mya recalled. “He was the first father figure that I had in life.”

Without her uncle around, Mya’s aunt became abusive — another experience that Mya feels the effects of still: “I don’t like when people make fast movements because I think they are going to hit me.”

Mya and her siblings were taken in by the foster system, with Mya being sent to a group home.

It was on that fateful drive to the group home that Mya met Allison Jones.

The police officer who drove Mya to her new group home made an immediate impression on Mya. “She was really really nice,” Mya said of that first meeting with Allison. “It was almost like it was meant to be.”

They bonded over the course of that drive, and Allison grew attached to Mya so quickly that she swore to visit her in the group home.

Sure enough, a few weeks into Mya’s stay at the group home, Allison visited her with coloring books– and she kept coming back and responding to Mya’s calls.

“I’ve never had a more persistent person call me,” Allison said, recalling when Mya called her multiple times a day just to chat.

“Mya latched on to me hard,” she said. “It tugged at my heartstrings reading about the physical and emotional abuse they went through.”

Years after that, Mya would be relocated several times, but she always held on to her bond with Allison, and even began to stay with her between the stops at group homes and family friends’ houses. In all the moving, it was Allison who felt like home to Mya.

Eventually, Mya’s dreams came true and she was adopted by Allison.

Two years later, the teen is still adjusting to her new life.

“It was hard,” Mya said of her fear that she would be sent away or hurt if she made a mistake. “I would shut down if I was in trouble. I would shut down if something happened. … I didn’t know how to handle my emotions.”

But Allison had an important message for Mya: “You never have to worry about being taken away again.”

Thanks to the support and love from Allison, Mya is now doing great, in a loving home and happy for the first time in her young life. She’s even enrolled in community college for nursing.

No matter how hard things get, never give up. Something — or someone — wonderful may be just around the corner.

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