The third time Bethanne lost custody of her children was shortly after her husband overdosed in a drug hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida. Although she was separated from him, she took the news of her husband’s death very hard. Within 20 minutes of the police notifying Bethanne that her husband had died, she was seeking drugs to help her cope with the pain of telling her children they were now fatherless.

She received little support from her boyfriend, who was also a substance abuser and had abusive tendencies toward her. One night when her boyfriend was withdrawing from drugs, he began beating Bethanne so violently that her children were awakened and, for the first time, they got hurt when they tried to intervene. One child called the police, who soon arrested the boyfriend. As the police were standing in her living room, Bethanne took a “good look around at her living situation.” There was blood on the floor. Dishes and dirty laundry were piled up everywhere. She was bruised, battered and also withdrawing from drugs. She soon lost custody of her children because it wasn’t safe for them to remain in her home; it was the wake-up call that she needed.

Through the help of Eckerd Kids and partner agencies, Bethanne worked through her case plan to overcome her substance use, enhance her parenting skills, improve her earning ability and stabilize her life. On the one year anniversary of her husband’s death, she was reunified with her children. It was a profoundly proud, yet poignant moment for her.

Bethanne is equally proud that she has turned her greatest challenge into her greatest blessing. Today, Bethanne works as a peer mentor in a partner agency in Eckerd Kids’ system of care, helping other parents overcome similar challenges that she once faced.