First Michigan statewide reunification day brings families back together

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) Dozens gathered outside of the Michigan Hall of Justice in Lansing Friday to celebrate the first statewide reunification day in Michigan. It recognizes parents who worked hard to get their children home and out of foster care.

Friday is a celebration of children reuniting with their parents who were abusive or neglectful.

“Our goal is to help parents reach their goal of getting back that gift of their children.”

Thereasa McGill became addicted to alcohol when she was about 17.

“I used to feel like I was alone when I was in my addiction. It’s a really lonely place but now that I have so many people that care about me and my kids and they’re growing up in a healthy environment,” McGill said.

She’s been sober now for a year and a half, happy as can be with her 3 children by her side.

“I have a relationship with my kids,” McGill said.

And that relationship is because of hard work she put in to get them back.

“It’s not easy to do. It requires a big commitment on the part of the parents to do it,” Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Laura Baird said.

“The court system can be very difficult to maneuver through and when we have successes we love to celebrate them,” Chief Judge of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi said.

In Ingham County, Judge Laura Baird runs an intensive neglect services program which helps families keep kids out of foster care.

“Because of the intensity of the supervision, those families have a real high rate of succeeding and becoming better parents so the children have a better opportunity,” Baird said.

Baird says children always miss their parents, even in abusive situations.

“It’s best if we can help mend the family rather than keep the family apart,” Baird said.

“I really felt like I could never be successful and these people just cared so much and they had faith in me, and now I just have the opportunity to be a mother and you can’t replace that,” McGill said.

Thereasa McGill, like other parents here today, is just taking it one day at a time.

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