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Adeana Otuome

Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Ms. Adeana Otuome welcomed her son Jemani into the world in 2004. Three years later, Adeana relocated their family to Southern California where they would stay for the next 10 years. During this time, Jemani was a very active child who enjoyed running on the beach and swimming, and Adeana pursued her passions of dance and teaching in addition to motherhood. Adeana recounted that “Jemani and I were always out and about in California, doing various activities and enjoying the warm weather.” After spending a decade in California, Adeana and Jemani returned home to Memphis in 2018, where their lives would soon change in ways they didn’t expect. 


At 14 years old, nearly a year after their return to Memphis, Jemani suddenly began having seizures and was ultimately diagnosed with epilepsy. Due to Jemani’s condition, Adeana stopped working as a substitute teacher to devote her full time to ensuring her son got the support and care that he needed to thrive. Despite this scary and difficult time, Adeana felt comfort once Jemani had been approved for TennCare Medicaid. With Medicaid coverage, Jemani was able to get all his prescriptions and medical needs covered, which kept him safe and healthy.  


Jemani would remain on TennCare Medicaid without issue until October 2023 when Adeana went to pick up his prescriptions as usual and was turned away for lack of coverage. This came as a complete shock to Adeana who had just renewed Jemani’s coverage over the phone in August. During that phone renewal, Adeana had been told by TennCare that they would send her a letter if they needed any additional information to continue Jemani’s coverage. However, no letters came, and Adeana was only notified of the termination when she went to the pharmacy. Upon learning that Jemani had lost coverage due to aging out once he turned 18, Adeana panicked and had no idea how she was going to cover Jemani’s medical expenses. In crisis, Adeana turned to friends and family to keep her calm, that’s when she learned of a local attorney who then referred her to TJC. Hoping to get this issue resolved as quickly as possible, Adeana contacted TJC for help.  


After reviewing Jemani’s case, TJC found that he had several medical bills that would qualify him for coverage through the Medically Needy Spenddown (MNSD) category. As a result, TJC filed an application for Jemani’s coverage to be quickly reinstated. However, when TennCare received the application, an assumption was made that further delayed Jemani’s coverage for two months. After several bouts of communication with TennCare, TJC was able to resolve the issue, and Jemani’s coverage was extended through the MNSD category. Throughout this traumatic experience, Adeana stayed positive and persevered, doing whatever it took to get Jemani’s coverage reinstated. Adeana now considers it her full-time job to ensure that her son continues to receive coverage for his routine medical care that keeps him alive and well and to continue spreading the word about TJC. “It’s very important for people to know about [TJC]. If they don’t know, they can’t ask for help.” Adeana spent hours worrying over bureaucratic barriers that changed her family’s life and impacted her son’s safety. She hates to think what would have happened if she hadn’t learned about TJC that day. “God put me in the right place at the right time to get the help I needed, we needed.” 


Tennessee Justice Center is proud to honor Ms. Adeana Otuome as a 2024 Mother of the Year, for her unwavering determination to ensure her son’s care despite continued bureaucratic barriers!  

Photo Credit: Cindy McMillion 

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