This story is from Kayla Titus, a mother of two who was served by KVC Kansas, which is the lead agency for the Kansas Department for Children and Families. KVC provides prevention, family reunification, foster care, and adoption services to children and families involved in the child welfare system. This story was a winning submission in our annual KVC Story Contest which asks families and employees to share stories of strength, courage, and success after working to strengthen families, keep children safe and provide services.
I had just left the hospital feeling very excited. My baby boy who was born prematurely was finally going to be released from the Newborn Intensive Care Unit after nearly a month of receiving treatment. I went home to make sure my house was ready for him and to check on my daughter. Then I heard that knock on the door. I opened it and a police officer and social worker from the Kansas Department of Children and Families informed me they were taking both my kids into custody. It seemed that someone who knew me or someone at the hospital called the state to check that my children were safe. I had been struggling with my mental health and other issues stemming from substance use, and after an investigation from the sate, they deemed my home to be unsafe for my children. My whole world came crumbling down. I couldn’t breathe and didn’t believe what was happening.
“How am I supposed to live without my babies?” I thought. “They are my purpose in life. I can’t live without them.” In my mind, I thought I would never get my children back from state custody. I had several friends who lost custody of their children, and some of them told me it was impossible to get them back. The next couple of days I sat in silence, alone in the house that my daughter used to fill with her laughter. But she wasn’t there. Staring at the crib of my baby boy who I hadn’t even got to bond with yet. I sat curled up with my daughter’s favorite toy and cried out to God, begging him for direction.
The next day was the first meeting where I met my case worker from KVC Kansas and went over the process of reunifying with my kids. After the meeting, I asked her, “What’s the fastest reunification you’ve ever seen?”
“6-months, but oftentimes this can take up to a year,” she said.
“I’m going to be one of the 6-month cases,” I replied. I had made my mind up that I would do whatever it took to get my babies back.
After the longest week of my life, I got my first visit with my kids. My daughter was very confused.
“Mommy, I wanna go home!” she cried. The hour-long visit went by too fast. I then brought them to the case manager’s car who was going to drive my children to the foster home that was caring for both my son and daughter. As I was buckling them in, they both began to cry out. It was the hardest thing in the world to shut the door and walk away.
That night I went to my counselor at my outpatient treatment and told her I needed help. I was becoming suicidal and needed significant therapy and care immediately.
Once I entered treatment, I called my case worker everyday to check on my babies. I got out of treatment 30-days later. Within a month, I secured a job and moved to a new home. I cut off people in my life who were negative influences on me. About 4 to 5 months after my children entered foster care, I was granted overnight visitation. I had grown so much in these months and felt healthy physically and mentally for the first time in years.
Kayla’s Children Return Safely to Her Home
6 months into the reunification process, my babies were able to return to my home safely! We received KVC aftercare services, which involves a year of family therapy after children safely return home after being in foster care. I knew in my heart I wasn’t going back to what made me lose my kids, and the aftercare services helped me maintain confidence and independence as a parent.
I appreciate all the workers that believed in me. My life is the best it has ever been, and I can say this process of getting help and learning has made me a better person and mother to my children.
We are looking for more passionate people who want to help families like Kayla’s. KVC Kansas currently employs over 750 passionate, dedicated staff who support children, adults and families. If you are interested in making a positive difference in the lives of children, teens, and families, here are five reasons you should pursue a career in social work!
Visit www.kvc.org/careers to view open positions today!