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Tears turn to smiles as Lakeland mom reunifies family after five years apart

November 22, 2013

FLGreenFamilyIn the five years she was separated from her children, Marion Green, an Auburndale, Fla., mom, cried buckets of tears but never gave up hope that she’d one day be able to pull her family back together.

Marion grew up in a troubled home herself, even spending time in foster care. As a young adult, she admits she made mistakes. After an automobile accident, she faced charges and ended up incarcerated

“All I could think about was my children,” Marion said. “My youngest son, Jeremiah, wasn’t even walking and talking.” She had to leave him and her other three children with relatives, receiving only a few pictures of them while she was away.

As soon as she was released, Marion began working to bring her kids home. She struggled to meet requirements and prove that she could be a good parent. Twice she even considered suicide.

“My children were all I had,” she said. “I never stopped fighting for them.”

The Youth Villages Lakeland, Fla., office was assigned to help Marion and her children reunify safely and successfully.

Marion’s sons Adrian, 11, Joshua, 8, and Jeremiah, 7, came home just before Christmas in 2012. Her daughter Jakaliah, 13, followed. But, the homecoming was rocky. The younger children barely remembered a time when they lived with their mother.

Audrey Mayfield-Gordon, family intervention specialist with Youth Villages, was assigned to work intensively with Marion and her children in their Lakeland home.

“It was hard to manage them,” Marion admits. “They were out of control. They cursed everyone at any time. They didn’t know how to behave. I was afraid they would run Audrey off!”

When Audrey walked in the door, she saw a mother who was doing many things well and was more than willing to learn specific interventions to help parent her children, who struggled with emotional and behavioral problems.

“She was open to using the interventions and always acknowledged her challenges and the children’s problems,” Audrey said.

The two worked together on behavioral charts and to find rewards that would motivate the children to change their behaviors.

“The behavior chart is still up at our house,” Marion said. “The children get excited when they see me marking the board because they know they’ll get rewards.”

Audrey worked with Mom for four months, meeting with her in the home at least three times each week and working in the community and the children’s schools.

“She wouldn’t give up,” Audrey says. “She worked hard to establish positive relationships with the children, to set proper structure in the home. Marion knew that the job wouldn’t end when I left. She has to work every day to help the kids overcome their behavioral challenges, and she knows what to do.”

The children are now doing well in school and getting ready for a family Thanksgiving.

“I’m excited about what’s going to happen in our lives,” Marion said. “There are so many things that I want to do with them. I look forward to watching them grow. I want to tell other parents who may be in my situation that it’s never too late. It took five years, but my family is together at home.”

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