When Abby entered Safe Baby Court, she’d already been through a lot. She’d struggled with addiction for a majority of her adult life. She’d lost custody of her older daughter who she hadn’t seen in years. After losing custody of her new baby in 2019, Abby signed up for Safe Baby Court and was ready for any help the team could provide. She and the father completed every recommended service to address their substance use and mental health struggles. They took advantage of many of our community partnerships to improve their life circumstances. Through the Safe Baby Court partnership with Section 8, the Department of Children’s Services and Freedom Investment Group, the family got their own apartment and turned it into a true home. Through partnership with the Community Law Office and funds accessed through our Transportation Grant, Abby obtained her drivers license. She now has her own car and is able to drive legally for the first time in her life. Both parents are gainfully employed in jobs that could be long term careers. They have a vision for their family’s future and take steps every day to accomplish their dreams!

KAKI: Thinking back, what was on your mind when you first walked into court for your first preliminary hearing?

MOM: To be honest, I thought that maybe I would get to bring my baby home. I didn’t know what to expect from court. I was really hoping for a different outcome; I was confused and hurt. But it worked out for the best – I grew a lot. I learned a lot. I faced a lot. It made me stronger. I had to really get my mind right and I had to get my priorities in order. It changed my life all around and pushed me to work on all aspects of my life – mentally, financially, and physically. It made me a better person and a better mom to have to work for what I wanted and what was right, and for those things not to just be given to me.

KAKI: From that first day at court until now, tell us what’s different about your life.

MOM: A year ago, I had nothing, but I knew that it was time to change my life. I didn’t know which way to go or where to turn, I was completely lost. I was still really struggling with my addiction. Even though I wasn’t actively using, it was early in my recovery and my child had just been taken so I was really fighting those demons and urges to use. I felt like giving up. Now, I feel like a human, like a whole person. I have my driver’s license and a car, something I never thought I would have and I can drive legally. I’m a manager at my job. People respect me and see me as a productive member of society. I have a home, my child has a home – that she runs by the way. I can’t say that I’m 100% free of the bondage of addiction but I’m free to be off the streets and off drugs. I’ve found my way and now I know that I can do it. There’s no stopping me.

KAKI: One thing that’s unique about Safe Baby Court is the co-parenting relationship we try to nurture between birth families and foster families. Tell me about your relationship with the foster family?

MOM: They are family now. I love the foster parents and their whole extended family. They love my child and my child loves them. I want my child to have a life full of love and support and for her to be able to know good people who love her. They are very supportive of our family. I never thought it could be like that. I didn’t know how it would be when she came home, but they’ve embraced us like we were their own. We are family now.

KAKI: What would tell a new parent who has the opportunity to participate in SBC?

MOM: Don’t be scared. I know this is a scary situation. You don’t know what to expect but Safe Baby Court will be there for you every step of the way. They can help you. They have resources. I’ve lost a child before, and I really felt at that time that DCS wanted to take my child. I’ve never felt that way with SBC. Y’all were very supportive and really pushed for my child to come home.

KAKI: What do you want our Stakeholders to know?

MOM: Don’t stop supporting SBC. They change lives. They change lives in so many ways. I know I’m not the only one. There are a lot of success stories and they need all the support they can get to continue impacting people’s lives.

*Name was changed to protect the privacy of SBC participant