We love to reunify and strengthen families, and we are finding more opportunities to do so in our residential ministries, using various ways to help maintain connection and promote healthy homes. Though the process is often long and difficult with many stops and starts, the joy of reuniting a child with a safe and rehabilitated biological family member is full of blessing and joy.
One such case is that of Jazmin*. She arrived as a nine-year-old at Casa Monte Plata in 2016, after the state removed her from her home because her biological mother was physically abusing her.
We have continued to stay in contact with both of Jazmin’s biological parents via the visits of our site directors to her hometown. The trips helped us gather information and also helped us strengthen both homes while going through CONANI’s (Dominican government’s child protection services) legal process.
Investigations into Jazmin’s past revealed that another woman had initially raised her, as the biological mother was only 14 years old when she gave birth to Jazmin. When her caretaker died, Jazmin was tossed between several aunts for a few months before she finally returned to her biological mother.
As a teenage mother, Jazmin’s mom knew little about raising a daughter. She found parenting difficult and viewed Jazmin as rebellious. Inexperienced and thin on patience, she frequently resorted to hitting as a way to discipline Jazmin. It wasn’t long before the school discovered the marks from physical abuse and turned Jazmin over to the state. This is how she came to be in our care.
From the moment Jazmin arrived at Casa Monte Plata, we began working with her mother to equip her with skills and support to raise her child. Jazmin has a good relationship with her father, but his drug and alcohol abuse excluded him from consideration as a suitable caregiver.
During the five years that Jazmin has been in our program, she has been well behaved and expresses that she likes it here. She studies hard at school and always has a smile on her face. She participates in all Casa Monte Plata activities and has a sweet group of friends. Naturally, she does suffer some depressive moments when thinking of her past. But overall, she is doing well and is a content and happy child.
Three years ago, Jazmin’s mother began showing a change in heart even as she began seeking advice from Juana, site director at Casa Monte Plata, on how to win back her child’s heart. Since then, Jazmin and her mother have been in contact and now have a progressively positive relationship. A big turning point came when Jazmin and her mother collaborated to obtain her birth certificate.
Because of the inward and outward demonstrations of change, we concluded that it was time to begin Jazmin’s reunification with her family. There are many legal steps to complete this, but the process has now been initiated. If reunification happens, we will continue to offer emotional and financial support to Jazmin until her family is accustomed to having her back and can support her independently.
Although this is a long and complex process, it is worth going through to see a child reunited with her family. It’s a tangible demonstration of the restorative power of Jesus and His work in our ministry!