| December 23, 2020
One Man’s Winning Battle for His Family
Tim woke up one morning, sleeping on his wife’s grave. Still heartbroken from her passing of an overdose, Tim faced his own struggles with drugs that he was determined to overcome. He knew he had to face his demons seeing how he had six children to look after. But that morning, things got worse quickly, and his kids were taken away from him.
His story is a tough one to tell. He pauses frequently as he recalls and tells us of challenging moments in his life. “I was born in the Cincinnati area,” he says. “My mother had passed away and my dad was in trouble, having been in prison for robbery.”
In 2000, Tim relocated to southern Illinois to meet his father for the first time. They still have a difficult relationship, but with family in the area, it was a place to start over. Tim got a job doing flooring, a job he has been doing on and off ever since.
Losing a family while finding his way
After losing his wife, Tim discovered he was lost as well. He was staying at his wife’s grandmother’s house, who helped take care of his children. She and Tim had a strained relationship, at best. “After my wife passed, I decided to pull everything out of the closet that belonged to her,” Tim says. “I just couldn’t keep looking at it. That’s when her grandmother came in and an argument started.” Tim was encouraged by his DCFS caseworker, if there was ever conflict, he should leave, so he did.
“I didn’t know where to go, so I went to my wife’s grave and fell asleep,” he says. “I woke the next morning to find out I had been charged with abandonment, and I lost my kids.”
This was three years ago. Tim lost everything and everyone. All he had were the clothes on his back. He ended up living out of various family members’ homes with no real plan to get his life back on track. Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) started Tim with a service plan to ensure he was and would remain clean from drug usage. This would be his first intentional step to getting his children and life back. In the meantime, the children would be under traditional foster care with their grandmother.
“A case worker from DCFS told me that I should begin a drug treatment plan to help with my addiction,” Tim explains. “But it didn’t seem right to take drugs to get off drugs, so I asked if I could first try to do it on my own.” It took time to accomplish, but determined to rebuild his life and family, he was able to do just that and has not used an illicit drug since.
Like any human being, Tim struggled a few times with alcohol, but he had his mind set on reunification with his children. DCFS asked that he take a drug assessment and mental assessment. He was hesitant, feeling he made some strong strides on his own. He knew where he could go if he had any concerns or relapses, or so he thought. He was referred to Hoyleton Youth & Family Services as another option to help him get his life fully back on track.
An ear to listen and programs to help
Providing services to youth and families served by DCFS, Hoyleton’s Wraparound Program works to keep youth out of foster care by finding them permanent homes. Through traditional and non-traditional support, its services include mentoring, budgeting, organizational skills, finding local resources and any other services that help maintain a family’s mental well-being when involved in DCFS care.
“I was introduced to Tracy, a caseworker at Hoyleton. I went in with the same expectations I had with any other caseworker, that they really wouldn’t understand my issues and be able to help me,” Tim says. “But Tracy was different. She read my file thoroughly and called me out on my excuses. I was upset at first, but stuck with her. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.”
Tracy worked with Tim, getting him therapy sessions and working through his case to gain custody of his children again. “Tracy was a light in the dark,” explains Tim. “I learned to trust her, and she was someone I could talk to whenever I needed to vent or ask questions.”
Tim had gone years with no one to fully take the time to understand him or be there when he needed them. Our programs gave him hope and an outlet. We began to teach him how to take the right steps to redemption.
“Hoyleton was always there when I needed them and still are today,” says Tim. “Tracy left, but I connected with Tammy, with Hoyleton’s Forward Counseling Care, who has been equally awesome.” Our team assisted Tim in finding a permanent home and with the needed furniture so every child would have their own bed. “Hoyleton even helped with getting me a dining room table to ensure we could eat together as a family,” says Tim.
A family reunited for the holidays
The road has been tough for Tim, but he is very hopeful and looking toward his and his family’s future. He now has custody of his six children and continues voluntary counseling sessions with Hoyleton so he stays on the right path.
“I know the importance of those sessions and how much it helps center me,” he says. “My addiction is a life-long challenge. If I didn’t have counseling, I know things would be much worse for me.”
Tim and his children are especially grateful this season to be able to spend the holidays together under one roof. “There are no words to what this means to us,” he says. “As difficult as the past few years have been, I could not be happier with where I am now.”
Tim knows that when he faces challenges, Tammy and Hoyleton will be there for him moving forward. “They are like family to me as well,” Tim says.
Part of our mission is to provide the tools which allow people to realize the wholeness of life God intends. To learn more about Hoyleton and its counseling services, please visit hoyleton.org/programs/counseling-care/ or forwardbyhoyleton.org