The new mom who never had a mother

Published December 3, 2006

"The Birth of a Mother"

Aug. 14, 2005; links.tampabay.com

THE STORY: Carrie Mahler grew up in 28 foster homes. By the time she became pregnant at 19, the only person she really clung to was Laurallyn Segur, the social worker who had tried all those years to find Carrie a family. As Carrie faced motherhood, she had to figure out what a mother does. And as Laurallyn tried to teach her, she realized that the state had given Carrie a family after all. She was it.

FROM THE STORY: "It still didn't seem real. The baby was still just a squiggly line on a monitor in the corner of the room. Carrie had packed 10 outfits to bring the baby home in. Narrowed it to four.

"It was Wednesday, July 20. Laurallyn's birthday.

"The nurse was filling out forms. She nodded toward Laurallyn. 'And who is this?'

"Carrie said, 'That's my mom.' "

THE REST OF THE STORY: Alyssa Nicole Mahler is 16 months old. Carrie works at Edward White Hospital and has applied to nursing school. Laurallyn says Carrie is a wonderful mother, pouring all the attention she never received into her child.

Carrie has become part of the Segur family. They spent Thanksgiving together and are planning Christmas. "We've had birthdays and Christmases and baptisms and everything," said Laurallyn, who is still the assistant director of licensing and placement at the Safe Children Coalition. Last week, Alyssa called Laurallyn "Nana."

WHAT'S NEXT: Laurallyn is exploring official avenues to make Carrie part of her family. Carrie is 21, beyond the age of a traditional adoption, but Laurallyn wants her last name to finally be Segur.

"I love her like I birthed that child," Laurallyn said.