Lisa gets her boys back

Jun 5, 2019

From rock bottom to reunification in seven months

Lisa, a young mother of two boys – Christopher, 8, and Tyler, 2 – made bad decision after bad decision. Then, she hit rock bottom. Her boys were taken into the custody of Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and placed in a foster home.

“I had been using and carrying on since I was 13,” Lisa said. “That’s what my mom and dad did. What my grandparents did. Drinking. Taking prescription drugs. Smoking weed. Then, the boys were taken into custody, and there was a roller coaster of repercussions.”

It was a scary time. She couldn’t see her children and had two choices: change her life or risk never being reunited with her sons.

Lisa began leaving her old life behind. After completing a rehabilitation program, she was able to start the process of reunification with her children.

“Just seeing them was everything,” she said. “I had to start taking one positive step after another, and believing in myself.”

Youth Villages transition specialistYouth Villages Transition Specialist Debra Thompson from the YVIntercept intensive in-home services program was assigned to help reunite the family. Debra coordinated with Twyla Wesson, from Youth Villages’ foster care program, who worked with Tyler, Christopher and their foster parents.

Debra helped Lisa meet three key DCS requirements: stable housing, employment and transportation.

“She worked hard and accomplished every task that was set before her,” Debra said. The specialist helped Lisa learn ways to manage stress and uncertainty, and stood with her at court dates. They shopped for cars together, evaluated housing options and talked through the children’s needs.

Lisa had her children back under her roof and in her custody in seven months.

“I had a very supportive team – including my AA sponsor, Youth Villages and my case manager,” Lisa said. “I changed everything about my life. In a way, I’m just learning who I am now.”

The experience also sparked a spiritual awakening, and Lisa believes that God made the difference for her.

“I was lucky – very lucky,” Lisa said. “I go to AA, and there are people there who say it took years to get their kids back. Some haven’t yet. I would say to others: Don’t give up. Keep on fighting. You have to believe in yourself and take the next right step.”

Lisa has a good job and is working to help her children continue to do well. Eventually, she’d like to go to school, perhaps to be a substance abuse counselor.

“I’ve walked that walk, and I would like to help other women like me who are in the same predicament,” she said. “It felt like dying when they took my children. I know how that feels, but you can come back.”

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