Love is an incalculable, resolute force whose strength defies all odds, circumstances and in some cases, the very boundaries of logic.
Eleven-year-old Donte loved his mother.
When she sent him to school hungry and dirty, he loved her.
When she threatened him, he loved her.
When she screamed, yelled and whipped him with an electrical cord, he loved her.
When the brunt of her drug-fueled abuse got to be too much and the state was alerted to remove him and his siblings from their home, Donte loved his mother.
He started sessions with Community Partners therapists and for the first several months, the focus was on building a sense of trust and a rapport.
As Donte and his therapist got to know one another a little better, he started to open up.
With a mother in court-mandated rehab and an absentee father who wanted nothing to do with him, Donte was taken in by the brother of his siblings’ father – a man he affectionately refers to as his stepfather.
Between the therapy sessions and his new home with Richard, Donte’s started showing tremendous improvement.
Richard hired a tutor for the young man and he went from reading at a first grade level to making the honor roll for the first time in his life.
He started engaging and interacting more at school – joining leadership organizations and playing on the basketball team and through a series of play therapy and trauma-focused therapy, Donte started to talk about his mother, processing his emotions and improving his communications skills as well as his self-esteem.
The only thing Donte struggled with was the court-ordered visits to his mother at the residential rehab facility. Her instability and volatile moods caused Donte extreme anxiety and eventually, he refused to visit her.
“Even though she’s bad to me and does bad things, she’s still my mother,” he said.
His mother dropped out of rehab and lost custody of her children.
However, this story has a happy ending.
Custody was awarded to Donte’s “stepfather” Richard and now, all the siblings seem to be flourishing. In addition to performing well academically, Donte is in a much better place emotionally. He has a large extended family and knows that people love and care about him.
The Department of Children and Families has closed his case and Donte, his new family and his therapist arrived at the mutual decision to discharge him from services so he can practice the skills he’s learned and enjoy being a kid.
For the first time in a while, Donte has a sense of comfort and stability.
“He’s not going anywhere,” Richard said.