From Trauma to Triumph: Becoming the Mom My Kids Need
A Mother’s Story
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Abuse and neglect have been a part of my life since I was very young. I have experienced a lot of trauma, and I developed a lot of problems. Drugs were my solution. I used methamphetamines and many others drugs for 15 years. I used drugs throughout all of my pregnancies. I have five children and three child protective services cases. My family and I spent almost 6 years involved in the child welfare dependency court system. At the worst time in my active addiction, I had four children under the age of 5 years old. My children needed things from me that I was unable to give, and though I loved them with all my heart, I was sick. I didn’t know how to accept healthy assistance. I asked all the wrong people for all the wrong help. I was skeptical of the system. I was taught that if they knew what was going on in my home, they would take away my family, and we would never see each other again. The shame and fear were too great, and I did not get the help I needed in time. The last time my children were removed from my care, I didn’t think I would ever see them again. I had exhausted all my resources and burned too many bridges. The drugs were making me so miserable; I finally managed to escape their grasp. It was too late, the professionals in the system said that I had gone too far, for too long, way too many times; that I would never get my kids back. I was living my worst nightmare, scared that the pain of everything I had done would be too great and I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. I had no idea who I was, especially if I wasn’t a mom. I resolved to keep moving forward because it wasn’t IF my kids would come back, but WHEN and HOW I wanted them to come back.
Over the next year and a half, I utilized the services offered to me by the courts to gain perspective, heal, and improve myself. I built a healthy support network of people who encouraged me and believed in me. I learned how to be a good role model and a nurturing parent for my children. I transformed before everyone’s eyes. All the professionals who were against me before were now cheering me on, including my children’s family and foster placements. Twenty-eight months after their removal, I reunited with my daughters. Though heartbroken, the foster family integrated me into their family and made our reunification extraordinary. My grandmother returned my oldest son to me 6 months later. My other two sons were adopted by their paternal aunt, and after years of proving I am safe and recovered, they visit on weekends and during school breaks. We spend holidays as a family and I have adopted her as a sister. We work together as a team, we respect one another, and it works out in the best interest of the kids. Today, I am the coordinator of the Spokane County Parents for Parents Program and advocated for the program’s legislative bill to pass into law. Through this program, I reach out to parents who are involved in the child welfare system and are struggling to understand how the system works and to overcome barriers while they resolve issues. I use all the mistakes I made as tools and turn them into strengths to connect with them and help them be successful. I am also a founding member and cofacilitator of the Spokane Parent Advocacy Committee, and I contract with Empire Health Foundation to help build programs that will improve the child welfare system. I use my experience and hope to positively impact systems change. The most important thing I will ever be is a mom, and the best thing I have ever done is reunite with my children. I love and appreciate myself and my family more than I could have ever imagined. My passion is to be a part of other parents’ journeys and help them to be the parents their children need, the parents they always wanted to be.
Learn more about the Spokane County Parents for Parents Program.