Each year in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties, hundreds of parents complete the tasks necessary to make their homes safe so that they may be reunified with their children. In honor of family reunifications, we have asked parents to share their stories. Below is Meghan’s story she tells about being recently reunified with her children.
My name is Meghan. I’m 23 years old and I’m a full-time stay-at-home mom to five awesome kids. Three of which are my fiance Eric’s kids: 9 year old Ruger, 11 year old Shelby and 15 year old Zoe, who just got her permit. I have a four-year-old son named Jullian and a three-year-old daughter named Skylah.
In 2013, with my son’s father in prison and my daughter’s father in jail, I was left to take care of my babies alone. They were only one and two years old then. We were living in a hotel and I was reduced to working late nights in a club. Given the atmosphere, the situations I was putting myself into and the people I was surrounding myself with, it wasn’t long before I got involved with drugs.
Early one morning in October 2013 I got a knock on my hotel door from DCF. One simple urine sample was going to determine the fate of my two helpless, beautiful babies. Words can’t describe the pain I felt in my heart when the caseworker told me they were taking my babies! Thankfully my son’s Nana agreed to take them in.
Almost 2 years went by and I was still dancing, “hanging out” and had done nothing to really move forward in my reunification process. I even found myself in the Pinellas County jail for a 30 day sentence. It wasn’t until I met my amazing fiance Eric that I really started to change my life for the better. He asked me to move in, offered to help keep me clean and get my kids back.
In October last year my son’s Nana got a phone call that her mother was very sick so she had to move back to her hometown in New York to help take care of her. The case plan was reopened and my children were placed with a foster mom in Springhill. That’s when I kicked things into high gear. It was bad enough not having my kids when they were just living with Nana, now they were going to live with someone they didn’t even know. At first it seemed like such a longshot to get all my classes done before my kids were ultimately going to be adopted out.
Countless nights I cried to Eric about being so tired and frustrated with everything. Two hours every Tuesday, one hour every Wednesday, random weekly drug screens, all the meetings and court dates were constant. Plus, with Eric working every day and me not having my own vehicle I took a city bus or even walked to get wherever it was I needed to be. I made sure not to miss or be late to a single meeting or class. After four hard and surprisingly short months, I received my completion certificates from all my classes, turned over 20 clean drug screenings and was signing my reunification papers!
My son Jullian asked me, “Mommy, will this be my house forever?” It made me feel so good to smile back at him and be able to say, “Yes baby, this is our home now and you never have to leave again!”
Tucking them in at night with good night kisses, their happy faces in the mornings, even cutting their sandwiches up into fun little shapes… these are just a few of the small things that can make a big difference in any parent’s life, but most people seem to forget about all the differences we can make or could make in our children’s lives, good or bad.
No one is perfect including me, we all make mistakes, but we have to learn from those mistakes. I don’t want my kids to follow in my footsteps, I want them to walk the path next to mine and go further than I ever dreamt possible.
With that being said I know that if I was able to climb my way out of that hole I dug and make such a great comeback, that anyone can do it. Make the choice to impact your children’s lives in a healthy and positive way. With each and every passing day I promise to love my kids unconditionally and do my part to make their lives better in any way that I can.