“I felt like I had my world ripped out from under me; I was devastated, empty, and lonely.” This is how Sue described her feelings after losing custody of her toddler, Adam. Adam’s father was in a life of substance abuse and the family was barely housed. Living from here to there, things had deteriorated and the relationship had gotten ugly. Adam’s father and Sue had gotten into a heated argument. She threw something at the father and, by mistake, hit her son instead. At the hospital, they told the doctor the truth about how the accident occurred. Department of Social Services was called. A DSS worker came and immediately removed Adam from his parent’s care. Thankfully, Sue’s mother was able to take the baby into her home.
In order to regain custody, Sue had to meet a list of requirements, one that included separation from Adam’s father, counseling, working a 12-step program, attending anger management classes, mental-health treatment, and finally, stable housing. Lacking support from Adam’s father, unable to stay with family, with no money and no job, Sue called First Fruit Ministries. “I would’ve been at a homeless shelter [instead of a home.] DSS wouldn’t consider that stable housing,” Sue said as she talked about how she ended up at First Fruit Ministries’ transitional housing program: Wilmington Dream Center. Sue needed more than a home, she needed a safe place to learn and grow while she did the work she needed to do; she was determined that nothing like this would ever happen again.
At first, as Sue attended classes and kept her appointments, she was allowed supervised visits with Adam at her mother’s house a few days a week. Several months of classes and appointments later, Sue’s DSS worker allowed her to have Adam three overnights a week. Arrangements were made for Adam to move in and they transitioned from the single women’s residence hall to the family hall. In addition to what she was learning through counseling and anger management classes, First Fruit Ministries was teaching her, “structure; how to live a healthier life; how to accomplish goals; how to communicate better with other people.” Sue was picking up life tools; learning how to manage herself.
Currently, Sue has unsupervised care of Adam on a full time basis. They have a lovely room in the family center of the Ministry campus where Adam can play on the swings and run in the backyard. She expects to go back to court in a few months, at which time she hopes to regain full legal custody of him. “I’ve realized that I can be a single mother,” she says, looking forward to “taking on full responsibility” for her son’s welfare. Sue says she also realizes she needs to continue to work on herself while she makes plans for her and Adam’s future. She is grateful to First Fruit Ministries for making possible everything that has happened and that will happen.
Adam is in a safe home tonight because of the support of First Fruit’s donors. Thank you from Sue and Adam for all you do to build healthy families!