Tag Archives: love

DCF: A Parent’s Worst Nightmare

By Amy M. Voltero

How many of you are familiar with the Department of Children and Families? Not all, but most parents struggling from substance abuse, I know have had their children placed into DCF custody, or have had a case opened,  at one point or another. Some have even lost their children to adoptive families, because they just couldn’t stay sober.

I am one of those recovering substance abusers, whom shared a short period of my and my daughter’s life, having a case. When I found out I was pregnant, I was around 3 weeks into my pregnancy. I was homeless and actively using drugs. That was enough for me to enter treatment in May of 2010. I realized it wasn’t just about me anymore, but now an innocent child. My daughter didn’t ask to be born, nor did she deserve to suffer the consequences of an uneducated, self-centered addict, I had become.

I was on methadone during my pregnancy, which meant the possibility of my daughter having to be weaned off the methadone, by small doses of morphine, until she would be free of withdrawal symptoms. This was indeed my biggest fear. How would I forgive myself for what I had done?

I worked hard on changing the person who walked through the doors, day after day. I surrendered, and took an honest look at the damage my using had caused, and the painful lives of loved ones, whom I had hurt. I held on, without any family support, and continued my journey.

My mother was there for me the day I delivered a healthy baby girl, on January 13, 2011. My daughter, stayed in the hospital for three days for observation. Miraculously, she never had to be treated for methadone withdrawal.

DCF interviewed me, and due to my honesty, as a substance abuser with an extensive history, opened a case on my daughter’s behalf, for neglect.  My worker visited the program regularly, spoke to my counselors, and program staff to ensure progress in my recovery. I truly was changing.

I moved in August, 2011 to a sober living program, for women and children called, Dennis McLaughlin House, in Charlestown,MA. The visits with my worker continued, until the department felt secure enough to close the case.

Having DCF in my life, was truly a blessing at that point in time. They supported me through my transition, to ensure the safety and security of myself and my daughter.

Not all stories are like mine, however. A very close friend of mine, has a two and a half-year old son, whom she has not had custody of since he was two months old. She was sober during her pregnancy, and had also had a long battle using substances. He was admitted to the Neonatal ICU, due to needing surgery on his rectal area. That meant she could not take him home, which is every mother’s fear.

To sum up the story, she was overwhelmed and had post partum depression, and eventually relapsed. She was not going to probation due to her long days and nights, spent at the hospital, and from her slip.

We, as substance abusers, use to avoid having to deal with life, and not to deal with feelings. When we use, it numbs us temporarily. Having education now on the scientific part of addiction, we now can see that using only creates a band-aid effect. Our problems will still exist, whether or not we mask them.

DCF entered her life and took custody of her newborn son. My friend was arrested for not complying with probation, and was sentenced to seven months in MCI Framingham. She had plenty of time to think, get educated on how she could change her life, and be reunited with her son.

She went to a residential program and graduated, then went to a sober living home to continue treatment. Her son was placed into a white-collar home, with two young parents, in the medical field, who also had another child. My friend’s visits continued, once per week, only with DCF supervision. The visits were held at the mutual meeting place, the DCF office. Leaving him was never easy. He called her mum and the foster-mother mum as well. She would leave the visits, crying, and isolate herself. Although she was deeply saddened and depressed, she refused to allow the system to get to her.

A trial was conducted for her to regain custody of her son. After months of grueling testimony, the judge came back with the decision. My friend was deemed an unfit mother, and her rights to her son were revoked. They would only allow her two more visits, and that would be all. She was in shock!

How could a judge, deem her an unfit mother, as she had now, over a year of clean time, was committing to therapy once per week, at one time, even had two therapists, attending school to get her GED, voluntarily attended classes for self-help, could provide a home, love, emotional and mental support, and had truly changed? I’ll tell you. Rumor has it that the DCF worker assigned to the case had a personal relationship with the now adoptive foster family.

My friend, along with her mother’s support, contacted almost every political office in Massachusetts, looking for support. John Kerry’s office went to bat with her, only to find that DCF painted a deceiving picture of her in a letter addressed to the senator.

She would now have to appeal the judge’s decision, which could take possibly two years or more. That’s a great idea!! Let’s revoke her visits, so this foster family can strengthen their relationship with her son! I’m sorry, a mother’s natural place is with her child, UNLESS, they pose a current danger to herself or others. My friend DOES NOT fall under that category!!!

She is now fighting for visits with her son, during this appeal process. She is a woman I have watched complete a one hundred and eighty degree turn around. She has established herself, became educated, and continues to do the right thing on a daily basis.  Despite her current situation, she continues to hold on,  to prove the members of the judicial system wrong and to her son, she will not go down with out a fight.

I sincerely hope the judge can sleep soundly at night, knowing she is biased, and has no idea, what it’s like to be on a journey of self discovery. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes lady. You are denying her, a woman, of her God-given right, to be a mother. Try a little empathy, Lady!! People are capable of change; however, it takes a real person to have the ability to see that!!

I ask you, from the bottom of your hearts, to please help me, help her fight for her child! If anyone knows of an advocate, politician, or even someone whom has been through a similar situation, please comment on this article on this page.

Thank you for all your support!

 

 

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Homage to My Fellow Artists ♥

Hey there!

In the midst of this crazy, incredible, amazing, painful, passionate, fulfilling, risky journey that I am on (the life of an artist) I wanted to take a moment to pay homage to all my fellow artists out there…

You may take a look at us artists and think “I would love to have talent like that” and you probably look at the really successful artists who top the billboard charts, star in movies or on tv, whose faces are on the cover of magazines and think “must be nice.” But the truth is, while we may make it look good, years and years of blood, sweat, tears and heartache go into making a real career as an artist…

It starts with a passion; an undying, burning desired to create art. And if you leave it behind, as society usually wants you to, a big piece of you dies inside. For me, I couldn’t imagine ever doing anything else with my life…

Then comes the chase, pursuing a dream that is shared by so many, and the competition is stiff. Rejection is something you have to get used to in this industry, because you will get 100 “no’s” before you get a “yes”. And let me tell you, us artists are sensitive creatures, so you must develop a tough skin or you will never, ever survive…

And then the chase continues. It NEVER, ever comes easy, even if we make it look that way. You can pretty much forget about making enough money to live off of as an artist until you hit it big. In fact, it will COST you money to get things done at a quality that competes. So, you had better learn to wait tables or get yourself a sugar daddy! (haha, just playing about the sugar daddy part-although there are some who do not rule this option out lol not me tho!)

Throughout this journey, we have to face a lot of invalidation from the people around us for what we are doing in life. We are considered to “have our head in the clouds” by many. And significant others usually don’t get it either… Especially the fact that you work a full time job AND do music/acting/modeling/dancing/painting/etc. full time as well. They are usually simply tolerating it but secretly waiting for you to realize that you gave it the old college and give it up already. Of course there are exceptions to this, and we do receive a great amount of love, support and admiration as well :0)

So, as you can see, this journey has not in any way been easy for me. I have sacrificed so much of my life for my career… And I wouldn’t have it any other way…

With all that said, I really feel the need to pay much respect, love and homage to all of my fellow artists out there, fighting for their dreams- especially the ones who have made it.

I leave you with one of my fave proverbs:
“Don’t be pushed by your problems… Be led by your dreams.” ♥

Much Love ♥
Melissa Jane xo

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