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A Family’s Healing Journey after Reunification

By June 28, 2024July 19th, 2024No Comments

In the quiet town of Senoia, Georgia, Vanessa’s* life was anything but serene. As a certified nursing assistant with nearly two decades of experience, Vanessa was a dedicated caregiver, both professionally and personally. However, behind her caring demeanor lay a harrowing struggle with domestic violence that eventually led to her two children being placed in foster care.

Vanessa’s life took a drastic turn in the summer of 2021. After enduring years in an abusive relationship, she finally found the courage to leave with her children. However, her attempt was thwarted when her partner refused to let her go. As their domestic dispute escalated, a concerned neighbor called Child Protective Services, leading to the heartbreaking placement of Carter and Rebecca in foster care.

“Losing my children was an earth-shattering, eye-opening experience. I had never been away from my kids, and they had never been apart from me,” Vanessa recalled.

The initial separation was the most challenging period for Vanessa. For three agonizing weeks, she had no contact with her children. The pain of this separation fueled her determination to remove herself from the abusive relationship, establish a safe home, and bring her children back home.

While Vanessa bravely worked to reunify her family, Terry, a loving foster parent, provided Carter and Rebecca with a safe, supportive, and nurturing environment. Recognizing Vanessa’s commitment to her children and her efforts toward reunification, Terry collaborated closely with the case manager to ensure she maintained contact with her children and advocated for restoring her parental rights. In January, after six months in foster care, Carter and Rebecca finally reunited with their mother.

“When my case manager called, she said, ‘Go get your babies.’ I immediately jumped in the car,” Vanessa recalled. “When I saw them, I fell to my knees, collapsed into their arms, and we all cried tears of joy!”

One of the most traumatic events in a child’s life is the loss or separation from a parent. At Wellroot Family Services, the healing power of family is the foundation for lifelong well-being. The goal is to keep children safe while supporting parents in adopting safer parenting practices.

Vanessa’s journey did not end with reunification. Two years later, she turned to Functional Family Therapy (FFT) to heal the wounds left by their separation. As a single mother, Vanessa recognized she needed help rebuilding trust with her children and navigating the guilt she felt after losing them.

Vanessa learned about FFT through community resources and was referred to Wellroot therapist Dustin Phan, who collaborated with the family to establish goals for positive change. Following the three-step process of the program, Dustin led the family through thoughtful discussions. The children’s deep-seated fear of being separated from their mother again led to attention-seeking behaviors. Dustin helped Vanessa address these issues through strategies that included spending quality time together, engaging in fun activities, and practicing mindfulness to stay present with her children.

The FFT program has been instrumental in transforming the lives of entire families. By working with both parents and children, Wellroot therapists have increased protective factors within the family, helping them function in a healthy manner so that children can remain safely in their family home.

Vanessa’s story is a joyful example of why we focus on reunification and highlights the importance of simultaneously addressing the needs of parents and children so that both can succeed together. To help more families stay together, support from the community is essential to provide the resources and care needed to create a brighter, more loving future.

*Please note that names and images have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients.*

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