Raising North Dakota: Surviving a difficult childhood and thriving with 12 children

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“They love you, they give you that unconditional love that no one else can ever give you,” says April Ison, Bismarck mom.

Business owner and mother of twelve children, April Ison is now a happy, busy woman.
But the road to happiness and success was not easy.
Unconditional love was something she never knew until having children of her own.

April was the daughter of two young teens and did not have a stable home in her early years.
She was molested and abused throughout much of her childhood.

April’s grandparents stepped in and tried to help raise her, but then another tragedy struck.

“I lost my grandpa at the age of 8, so that was my biggest setback,” April recalls. “I started getting into trouble with the law myself. Running away and things like that from my grandmother.”

From that point on, she was in and out of institutions, thirteen different foster homes, many different group homes and youth correctional center on a variety of occasions, and this continued throughout her adolescent and teen life.

But through it all, and despite a family history of drug and alcohol use, April never turned to substance abuse herself.

“I saw the impact they had on my mom and the struggle that she battled and a variety of aunts and uncles, and my biological dad was an alcoholic,” April explains, “so I kind of saw them struggle, and my grandpa was an alcoholic.”

April went on to live life with a resounding love of God, and was inspired by her grandparents and one special counselor who gave her the encouragement she needed to succeed.
She marrried her first husband at the age of 17, and life started looking up.

“We were married for thirteen-years, we built a good foundation,” April says. “They say the all American dream, he gave me that stability and foundation I never had growing up.”

They went on to have six children together.
And after a tumultuous childhood filled with abuse, April strived to give her children the love and support she did not get from her parents.

“I just love kids. They’re just so innocent, and just like I was as a child, we’re all innocent, we didn’t choose for things to happen to us, and we rely on our parents to be our protectors. My sisters were innocent, they didn’t deserve what happened to them. We were defenseless.”

In the midst of having six children, April also earned an associates degree and a bachelor’s degree.
Then in 2013, she met another man who would later become her second husband.

“I’m not saying it was the best situation or best decision I made in my life,” April shares. “We do make mistakes. But life is about learning and I learned a lot from it.”

April strived to help her second husband battle a drug addiction and anger issues, and they went on to have five children together.
But when her husband’s abuse nearly cost April her life, she decided enough was enough.

“I wanted my life back,” April states. “I realized I wasn’t able to save that marriage, I wasn’t going to be able to save it. It takes two and he wasn’t willing to change and I needed to move on with my life for my children’s safety and for their future.”

April asked him to leave and filed for divorce.
She says she got her credit back, owns her own company, Beautiful Crazy Contracting, and got her life back.
April is now in a healthy relationship, and recently had her twelfth child, a sweet smiling baby girl.
And a dozen smiling children are what bring April’s happiness full circle.

“You know, at the end of the day they’re always there no matter what. They’re always there to give you a hug and always there to love you and no matter what you do,” says April tearfully. “They’re always gonna be there and they’re gonna hug you and love you and to them you’re they’re mom.”

If you are suffering from domestic abuse, there is hope, and there is help.
Click here to find a resource near you.

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