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Reunification Stories: Nicole

This is the second in our series we are calling “Reunification Stories.” In it we hear from another parent who successfully completed the tasks necessary to make her home safe so that she may be reunified with her child. This is a speech a mother named, Nicole, gave on Hillsborough’s Reunification Day Celebration. She told her personal story in front of dozens of other families, social workers and court officials, while sharing her joy about being able to bring home her 7 year old daughter, Danika.

reunified family
Nicole and Danika, mother and daughter

Hi, my name is Nicole, I’m 31 years old and am happy to say I’m now a stay-at-home mom to my beautiful little girl, Danika.

It hasn’t always been this way though.  Five years ago in 2011, Danika, who was only 2 years old at the time, was removed from my home due to my substance abuse and a violation of my probation.

At that time, I was given a case plan to complete, but sadly enough, I never finished it.  I was more worried about the next party and was making bad choices, while meanwhile I set back and watched Danika’s father complete his plan and get to enjoy time with our daughter.

I spent time in and out of jail being transferred back and forth from Hillsborough to Pinellas County month after month and went to hearing and hearing.

If it wouldn’t have been for my fiance, Paul to give me the extra push I needed, I don’t know where I would be today or where my daughter would be.  I was given another chance, a second chance to complete my case plan, and this time I knew I had to do it or I would lose not only my daughter, but also Paul.

Finally, last December of 2015 I completed my case plan and I now have full custody of my seven-year old daughter, Danika.

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Hillsborough’s Reunification Day Celebration

Now that we are reunited, I want to prove to her that anything is possible!  People told me, I couldn’t do it and wouldn’t do it, but I did it!  Everyone makes mistakes, but if you stay focused and reach for the stars, it’s possible no matter what mistakes you might make along the way.  This experience has made me realize that I want to go to school for drug counseling.  It has now become a passion of mine to help others because of what I went through and I know what people will be thinking during their troubled times.

During my journey, Judge Peacock, who is here with us today,  gave me hope. She looked at me with a sense of belief in her eyes when I stood in front of her and I knew she believed in me.

Looking back at the mistakes I made, I would encourage anybody going through these types of struggles to complete your case plans!  If you want your children back, it’s not an option!  Everyone has a different case plan so don’t listen to others, focus on yourself and get it done!

In conclusion, I would like to thank my beautiful daughter Danika for being there for me. I have yearned for the day when I would have her back for good and now I can say its here.  I would also like to thank my fiance Paul who has been with me through it all.  To Judge Peacock – thank you for believing in me and to all of the case managers (especially Cecily and Myra), and all of the Eckerd staff – thank you for giving me a second chance.