Tiffany Baker and Terri Treiman

Recorded July 27, 2021 Archived July 27, 2021 21:45 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: chi003604


Tiffany Baker (48) and her former mentor, Terri Treiman (66), talk about their previous StoryCorps interview, Terri’s career in social work, and Tiffany’s career helping youth in the foster system.

Subject Log / Time Code

TB talks about what led her back to Chicago years ago to record their previous interview.
TB talks about the importance of sitting down face to face with TT.
TT remembers TB when she met her. "I saw the future in her," she says.
TB talks about paying it forward in her career. Of the youth in the foster system, she says, "I give them what [Terri] gave me."
TT reflects on her teen years, and the adult who recognized her gifts and hired her for her first job helping youth.


  • Tiffany Baker
  • Terri Treiman

Recording Location

Virtual Recording

Venue / Recording Kit




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00:04 Okay, my name is Bill Haley. I'm 38 years old today is July 28th, 2020 21 and I'm in Chicago, Illinois. And I'm talking to Tiffany and Terri and my relationship to them is I edited a story. This site the conversations that they talk to each other a while back.

00:33 So now it's just me and my name is Tiffany Baker and I am 48 in today is July 28th, 2021. And I am in Temecula, California and my interview partner is Terry Truman in my relationship to her is she is my social worker when I was in foster care.

00:58 Hey, my name is Terri, treiman. I am 66. I was I can't see the cards but I was Tiffany social worker way back when for several years when she was a child welfare. And so Tiffany Baker is my partner here and today's date is July 28th, 2021.

01:29 And where are you? I'm in Chicago. Sorry about that. So.

01:39 Yeah, thank you both for being here. And for doing this, the way this is going to work is it's going to be the original story and somewhere. We're going to have to cut some part of it out so that we can have this update from you. Both and said this is going to be very short ultimately, but it's going to be, people are going to hear the interview and then they'll be crying of course by the end of it. And

02:10 Yeah, I mean honestly no matter how many times I listen, I still get.

02:14 This is so genuine. But there's some honesty, some vulnerability there that really breaks through but people are going to hear that. They're going to feel that and coming out of it.

02:28 You know what? I'm just going to ask you a few questions here and you can just speak from the heart. But but know that that's what's coming out of it. So just to begin Tiffany. Can you say this is Tiffany and and then tell me a little bit about why you needed to express.

02:48 That to Terry why you needed to have that conversation when you're in Chicago?

02:53 Oh, hi Bill. This is Tiffany. You know, two things got me through foster care and it was my face and it was Terry.

03:06 And my faith says, As a Christian to give honor where honor is due and Terri deserved to be honored from my My Lips. My Lips needed to come back and say thank you because so many people never come back and say thank you and see if you're going to make me cry because so many children need to let Terry and I was blessed to have her. So I just wanted to let her know the impact and that's why I have to come back and say, thank you.

03:41 Okay, and Terri for you, can you say this is Terry and just tell us how it feels to be on the receiving end of that horrid. Now she going to get me crying and Terri. I just have to say you know, when I did the interview with Tiffany couple years ago now I got through it just fine think I was nervous about being kind of public. But the first time I listened to it, which I was at work and I listened back to it at my school. I started I started crying and I had to go find Kleenex before I picked up the next kid that I had to work. When I didn't cry at them everybody. I played it for his pride has had to get up and leave the room and get Kleenex. So I got wise and started keeping Kleenex around.

04:35 I can't tell you what an Incredible Gift. This has been because when When Tiffany and I got together to talk about this, I was getting, I was getting ready to turn 65 and I might have said this before, but my oldest friend, my closest friend said, to me, what you going to do for your 65th birthday, and I said, I really don't have anything. And I said, you're right. You are right and such a gift to be in this field as long as I was and to get that kind of send-off. Now, I did go ahead and work that year and I think it was really a pandemic that that made me rethink what I wanted to do next. But

05:19 Tiffany has no idea. What is she does of what it, what a gift, it was to sit down with her and see what you do. And actually eyeball her and see where she gets her family is at and just to see what you just made me feel very, very good. Very good about her very good about the work that I did. So I thank you Tiffany for doing that. I really do.

05:49 And Tiffany, you know, I mean you could have done this over the phone or you could have done it over Facebook. I know you two were kind of in touch. Every once in awhile. What is it about sitting with byterian talking face-to-face that you felt. What was it? What was this?

06:13 What was so meaningful about that particular?

06:19 I would say, just the look in her eyes, you know, maybe even start off by saying, I wanted to sit down face-to-face or other, to cut myself out, ultimately of this conversation. That's why I'm asking to do that face-to-face because of our situation. I think I told you guys the story and I have felt so bad as a child, you do foster care. Does it do anything to make you feel worthy of love or sex in 4 or anything good in life, and our first conversation was in her car face-to-face. Conversation in her car, and she said, I read your file.

07:07 But none of that matters to me. You have a clean slate with me today. And like I said in the first interview, it definitely changed the trajectory of my life, but to come back and let her see, me face-to-face. Let her touch me. Let her actually take in because of your difference in your hearing. I am the product of that and I thought it was important to do it face-to-face, especially since I was going to be in town for a conference, I couldn't see her.

07:41 Yeah, I'm crying again. You can see me but I can hear and Terri, you know, you, when we spoke on the phone before the story, are after you too. It had the conversation before it aired on the radio.

07:58 You were, you were still concerned up until that point about?

08:04 Putting this out there that that you had not followed the rules. Basically, I mean, that you had done things your own way. And obviously it worked out, but you were still a little reluctant to make that public.

08:22 And I kind of noticed you and you didn't take my cheever. We were right there but you but I mean that was

08:33 That was decades or years after this happened. And you were still like

08:40 I don't know, not wanting to be so.

08:43 Visible with this, as having the story.

08:47 Aired and other people hearing it as that chit. Strengthen your resolve that you made the right decision to do this. Or can you talk a little bit just briefly about that. I never doubted my decision. I end. And that, you know, I made a decision. I think that there were things that I probably wasn't 100% on top of because I, I still remember going to Tiffany's mother's house one day both girl and that it shipped me that they were always here. I would go to her house and I

09:30 You know, it didn't look like they were extra people there. But it but I knew that Tiffany was

09:35 Really responsible and she was the one who was looking, after those girls, whether it was 24/7 or weekends or whatever. It was. I knew that she had the strength to resolve, you know, I saw in her a future, I saw the future, I saw the future unfolding her and you know, her sisters, they were still okay, but they were in it, you know, they were in a rough situation with a single parent who was apparently using a lot and Tiffany was doing everything the way she should have and really and truly, you know, I think she was probably if I look at all the kids I work with at that particular job. If he may have really come out the best in terms of what she did with the rest of her life. I mean, I think there was some kids, it that did fine and some kids couldn't even keep the program cuz they weren't following.

10:32 The basic, you know, being busy working, going to school, keeping your apartment. So so, you know what? I like to think that at least at some point my intuition, you know who played a part in this because I just feel like you do sometimes social workers, really do get a bad rap and sometimes they deserve it. I will say, not everyone, who is a social worker, should be one and that's probably true of most field. But since it's really primarily hard work and it wrote, it involves a lot of intuition and a lot of trust and faith and paying attention and Sensitivity. I feel like I did the right thing by following my intuition because I feel like I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. I spent a year in law school and I ran for my life. Because I failed because it wasn't me and that helped solidify my decision to go back, social work. And I promised myself.

11:31 That I would do for kids. What I might have wanted done for me in the same situation. And I think that that's what works is if you look at the kids and you say there, but for the grace of God go I

11:44 And I think that if you do that, you're bound to help at least some kids really grow. So, no, I have absolutely no regrets that show to reach a stage in my life where I sort of not into an apology mode about much. I feel like I'm pretty ethical and I I'm kind of an open book and I want to tell my story just like Tiffany and I think we should. I think a story can help people.

12:13 Tiffany as you, you hear what Terry says about her advice for working with young people. You you also work with young people today. What advice do you have for working with young people gave me and that was an opportunity to be seen to be, heard to be loved to be cared for. And I give every child that comes in contact with me that opportunity. I created programs. I oversee commissions that fun Children and Family Programs. I'm I make sure that the efficacy of the program really meets the needs of the children, because I was once one of those children, but I I find myself

13:11 Speaking of Terry often because it's not black and white. It is heart work. No matter how much your trained in the book says. This is the rule says this. You need to look at a child, a person and see beyond their fault and see their need and sometimes being in foster care in and of itself is a fault. It's a judgment people don't see you. And in being a child, that's not having put on quote ideal life is daunting a time to some adults as well. And so, from me, I just miss you and I tell Terry story often that stack, that's that story in the car. I tell that to lots of groups of people. Want young people that have been in the juvenile system, the court system, foster care and Justine's. I tell that story of how Terry she saw me beyond my faults.

14:11 Said she saw me as a person. It's not my need.

14:16 I mean that's that's all my questions. But you know, the one thing I really want to express to both of you is just

14:25 That gratitude is so uncommon and is so there's so much grace. It's so much.

14:37 Power in it. And I don't think you know how much it's touched me. Personally. I had just listening to someone else share gratitude and accepting gratitude can be equally as hard Terry. So, yeah, thank you both for being. So honest. Is there anything else that you want to say or anything else that you'd like people to know coming out of your story? And when I was a teenager there with your, a lot of things going on in my family. You're my brother was was having a hard time and my family is kind of splintered and of course, I know I was so concerned about my brother.

15:26 And as when my brother was went to a treatment program, the whole family got services for a while. And the services were in the form of anybody could come in and talk to a meeting tonight with like 16 or 17. And I came in, I guess maybe I was 50. I don't even know. I went and I spoke to a counselor. And then when I graduated college, I am came and got hired at the group home. And I don't know if I told this story to my first job, the gal that came out to interview, me was the gal, I talk to during a very stressful period in my life. She had to hear a story that I, you know, it wasn't that much fun to tell and I walk behind or going home. I mean, I was only Twenty-One and as soon as I sat down, I said, I think I know you should cuz you do know me cherry.

16:20 And right away, she said listen, they all love you there at the group home. They want to hire you. We usually don't hire people who have a history with the agency at was Jewish Children's Bureau and she said, but I'm throwing that out because we're going to hire you and I felt

16:42 Like it was the first time that my, that I really had a voice because I think I felt like, I didn't really have a voice in what was going on in my family. I was a child and I didn't really have that voice and all the sudden, the adult world was going to recognize me at 21 as having this gift that I could share. So, I promised myself at that moment, these girls that's kind of braids to work with them uncomfortable.

17:09 I'm going to be to them what I needed because she said to me that day, I thought about the group home for you because of what was going on at home and I'm like, really

17:21 Yeah, I wasn't aware that the state and her parents are loving parents, but you know, so I don't know roses in a lot of stuff going on.

17:29 But I thought man, I'm going to be what I needed if she thinks that I could have used this, then I am going to look at each and every one of those kids as somebody who really needs a mentor and a big sister and somebody who hears them and sees them. And so I just want to share that.

17:48 And I want to say you accomplished your goal.

17:59 You too, I could just sit here and talk to you all day long. I'm so grateful that you have work to do. It seems like you're doing good in the world. So what place to see your face cuz I appreciated you too, cuz you saw it right away and you got us to be heard and I never took any bad feedback for any of the decisions. I made. Everybody love the story was right. What good would it have done for us to beat for Tamika ante to go into foster care, you know, the things that happened to me in foster care. I wouldn't live with my enemy. First of all, right, and so, you know what, when I like what you said today, and I'm glad you come to that source of peace. You trust that what you saw and what you

18:59 Car was true. My sister's needed me, and I was able to help them and you help me. Buy you helping me that allow me to help them and they're both doing very well, their degrees. They're serving the lord. They are upstanding citizens. Thank God. I have four beautiful grandchildren. That would never know what it is to be beat, or be on drugs, or to be prostituted or Panther or anything like that that we went through in our family because of that, one choice.

19:32 So, thank you. I just want to tell you. Thank you and generations. Have been affected because of your choice Generations from me. I'm not talking about the people outside of my family. I am talking about my siblings, and I are living a life, totally different than anyone in. Our family has ever lived before. And that is because the choice you made to allow us to stay together and not be split up. So, thank you.

20:03 Make you again. Thank you again.

20:06 And thank you, Bill. God bless you. Thank you for your beautiful heart and caring heart. No. I was just working one way or another one. Way or another.

20:28 I know you guys got very soft. And I think it's cuz my phone ring I have a new grandbaby and his name is Ezra and Ezra was in a horrific car accident, actually, and his MBA, he was in his mom's room and they all walked away without a scratch.

20:54 And I just because there's work for us to do, they have to work for us to do? There's more children. She's now my executive director of my nonprofit. So she runs it for me, and she's doing social, emotional training for children to help them cope with the complexities of life. So, and baby azra has helped her to come off of her job to do work full time for us. So we're very grateful and blessed and we want to thank storycorps for the opportunity. We want to thank Bill and bless you. God bless you guys and your endeavors, and I know that this chapter is closing but much success to your future endeavors, and thank you for giving us an opportunity to bring hope. Thank you so much.

21:41 Thank you.