David & Benjamin's Story
“Now that I have my son back, it’s like life is starting again. The road to get here was so hard, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
When Kate first met David, it was clear to see his life hadn’t always been easy. Back home in Utah, violence and drug abuse had been a part of his life from an early age. But, that wasn’t all she was able to see in him. Even in those early days, when David was still struggling with addiction and facing the possibility of losing custody of his son Benjamin, it was obvious to her that David deeply loved his son.
“It was the end of my world.” David says, remembering how it felt to learn Benjamin had been removed from his home. “I had lost my son. Knowing that I didn’t get to put him to bed, that he didn’t get to have his sock monkey…it was devastating. Total heartbreak.”
Kate could also see that Benjamin loved being with his dad despite the events that had led to their separation. “They delighted in each other, ” she remembers. “I knew there was hope.” When his parents were arrested, Benjamin was placed into foster care. At only 18 months old, his development was impacted by neglect and relational trauma. “That first night we brought him home,” foster parents Beth and Marcy recall, “he was so quiet and stiff. We couldn’t even rock him to sleep.” Before he was even a toddler, he was stoic.
Because of his emerging developmental needs, Benjamin’s case was flagged by the county to participate in St. David’s Center’s Infant-Team program. That’s when Kate and Kelly became a part of their lives.
“David was experiencing substantial unresolved grief and loss that was significantly impacting his mental and chemical health,” says Kate. Just like his son, David needed a support network to build trust and get back on track. Kate and Kelly worked with both David and Beth and Marcy in the Circle of Security – a clinical intervention designed to strengthen the parent-child relationship. They started a notebook where they shared stories about Benjamin’s growth and the things he was learning, little things like what he liked and didn’t like, all to keep David close to his son even while they were separated.
“It meant the world to me,” David says. “I was happy my son could be in the best possible place he could be if it wasn’t with me, but I hated that somebody else could give my kid what he needed and I couldn’t. I started to see that I needed to change.”
Thanks to Kate and Kelly, what David thought was the end of his life soon turned out to be just the beginning. “They never judged me,” he recalls. “They stood by me through all the ups and downs and believed I could be the dad my son needed me to be. They never said “I told you so.” They saw I was ready and simply said, “Let’s move forward.”
Today, David has been sober for a year and is getting ready to move back home to Utah with his boys. He knows they’ll never forget Kate and Kelly, or Beth and Marcy. Even now, when the case is over and David has regained custody, they still spend every other weekend together. “We can’t move in together, but I would if we could,” David says. “They’re my family out here.”
Benjamin is now 3-years-old and has made huge strides from the quiet little boy he once was. He’s talkative, trusting, and an amazing big brother. “It has been a privilege and a gift to be his ‘Mama’,” says Beth. “Both David and Benjamin have worked so hard and have grown so much. We hope moving home brings them peace with their family and that David can continue being the present, loving dad he was meant to be.”