Have you ever noticed that a Volkswagen Beetle can turn around on a dime, but tractor trailers require a lot more space and time to make the same turn? When a mom who is deep in substance abuse has her child taken away, she is much like the tractor trailer. It takes time to get things turned around. Alcohol and substance abuse issues are the leading cause of children being removed from parents required to make tremendous life changes to be reunified with their children.

Tonya, a Brooksville mom, had her 3-year old child taken from her and placed in foster care in 2016. She suffered from a long history of substance and alcohol abuse. The case goal was reunification and she was given the standard 12 months to accomplish the court-ordered tasks in her case plan. Her inability to comply with the case plan resulted in a change of goal to Termination of Parental Rights (TPR). Once her rights are terminated, she is no longer the legal parent of the child and he becomes available for adoption. Much like the tractor trailer, it took time for Tonya to make a turn, but in June of 2018, Tonya began making a remarkable and unexpected turnaround.

Working closely with her Family Care Manager, Tonya completed the many tasks in her case plan, including inpatient treatment for substance abuse and Family Intensive Treatment (FIT), both provided by Baycare. In addition, she completed aftercare treatment and as a result, learned triggers that lead her to substance abuse. Becoming over emotional is her biggest trigger and she manages by using breathing exercises, her strong support system, and other coping strategies. Tonya learned to vocalize everything she learned from her journey to becoming clean and the impact drugs had on her children and family. The FITT Team asked her to speak at the program graduation about her successful recovery and she works with program alumni.

Mom’s efforts to turn around her life brought her to celebrating a year of sobriety and resulted in being successfully reunified with her son, Aiden, on January 9, 2019.