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Family finds you: One man’s struggle to create a home

April 28, 2010

Donald W. with daughters Khadijah, left, and Antoinette

Donald W.’s road to family wasn’t easy. He wanted his children at home with him, but in the beginning, it wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t the drugs, the unstable home or the unemployment. It wasn’t his lack of direction or support.

His daughters were in foster care after being abandoned by their mother. Once Donald found this out, he wanted his children to be with him. He wanted the system to work quickly, but he first had to grow and learn. He first had to make a home for Khadijah and Antoinette. He first had to work on himself.

“Youth Villages opened my eyes – I never thought I’d be parenting my children alone, but I feel good about it.” — Donald W.

Khadijah had difficulty with structure and threw temper tantrums. In fact, she was removed from a few foster homes because of her physical aggression. She needed the help of a loving family.

“This is what I’m here for,” Donald said. “This is my purpose; God got me here to be here for my kids.”
Seven years ago, Donald found out his daughters were in state custody, and he contacted their case worker.

After years of frustration with various agencies and counselors, he was told in 2009 that Youth Villages was assigned to the case. Donald wasn’t impressed.

“I remember the first day I met Donald,” Youth Villages counselor Angela White said. “He was very resistant, and he asked, ‘I have had so many people in my home who said they’d help me get my children back, and they didn’t. What makes you any different?’”

At first, Angela said she was at a loss for words.

“Angela told me, ‘I’m here for you and here to get your kids back,’” Donald said. “But first, I had to take care of myself.”

Donald cleaned up and then worked on anger management and parenting skills. Each step along the way was a lesson in patience and frustration, as he was continually denied custody.

But he continued to work, and after about nine months, Khadijah and Antoinette came home to live with their father.

“Being a father has created this person I never thought was in me,” Donald said. “I’m grateful to be in this position.”

In that position, Donald and his family are growing. The sisters are learning to share and Khadijah is doing better at school.

“My biggest difficulty was adjusting at school,” Khadijah said. “But now, I have friends and teachers who think I am nice.”

Khadijah sets daily goals and attends the Boys & Girls Club after school. She never gave up hope that she’d be back with her family.

In less than a year, this fragmented family of children in foster care and a father with few life skills and unstable housing have joined. All are working together to make a home, and while there are growing pains, there is also love.

“Angela did what she said she was going to do,” Donald said. “Youth Villages opened my eyes – I never thought I’d be parenting my children alone, but I feel good about it.

“The kids are home.”

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Relissha Franklin permalink
    December 11, 2010 7:42 pm

    I am in the process of getting my daughter back it has been 7 years since we have been a family so I am going through a process. This story brought tears to my eyes. I am touched. God bless this man and his family. Youth Villages is great…
    Ree Ree from Memphis, TN.

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