As a child, Leelynn grew up in a healthy and safe home with two loving parents. She spent much of her time growing up in Iowa, and moved to Omaha with her family when she was 17 years old. Soon after, she met her boyfriend, and they had a daughter together the following year. For over a decade, Leelynn and her family remained happy and harmonious, until her world suddenly turned upside down.
When she was 28, her father passed away in her arms after a long battle with cancer. By that time, Leelynn had given birth to three other children, and she found herself raising the four of them on her own. She soon met a man who she then married. The young family lived with Leelynn’s mother.
The living situation at her mother’s house eventually became unfeasible, and Leelynn and her family were forced to leave her mother’s home. Since they couldn’t afford a home of their own, they turned to living in a tent in her in-laws’ backyard for the entire summer. Feeling crushed and defeated, Leelynn and her husband turned to using illegal substances.
They soon found themselves financially drained, spending all their income on methamphetamine. Her husband began stealing and selling the stolen merchandise to pay for drugs, which ultimately led to him going to prison. Once again a single parent, Leelynn continued to use drugs to cope with her despair and frustration.
Meanwhile, her children’s biological father managed to track them down and kidnap two of her daughters. U.S. Marshals quickly caught up with him, but they were obligated to notify Child Protective Services (CPS). Leelynn had been warned: if she was careless with her children again, they would be taken from her.
Leelynn eventually found an apartment she could afford, and her husband was released from jail a year later. Leelynn was thrilled for her family to be reunited, but when her husband left her two-year-old home alone, her elation quickly vanished. The incident was reported to CPS, and all four children were removed from the home. Feeling numb and overwhelmingly sad, Leelynn increased her drug use and seemed to give up on life. She thought she would never see her children again.
Two years later, Leelynn hit rock bottom when CPS notified her they planned to permanently terminate her rights as a parent. Leelynn knew she had to make drastic changes to bring her children home. She immediately searched online for a program to help achieve and maintain sobriety once and for all. She found the Heartland Family Service Family Works program, to which she was soon admitted for residential substance abuse treatment.
At Family Works, the caring and kind staff worked with Leelynn to help her overcome her substance use disorder, and to identify key triggers that made her want to use drugs. Leelynn learned a variety of coping skills and found a new family in the other moms and staff in the Family Works program. Family Works not only gave her a place to live, but the program also offered her the life skills and tools she needed to start a job, buy a car, and save money to move on with her life.
In just eight months, Leelynn has achieved and maintained sobriety, and she will soon graduate from the Family Works program. Her happiest achievement has been reuniting with her four children, as CPS reunited the family after seeing how much progress Leelynn made. She and her children recently moved into the apartments at Family Works in Nebraska and will continue down the healthy path she has created for her and her family.