We often hear stories of children being taken away from their parents who are seen as unfit, but what we don’t normally hear is what those parents go through to get their children back. On Saturday Douglas County celebrated that success.
It was a fun day at Elmwood Park. Children played games and had a picnic with their families, but this isn’t just any picnic, it’s one with a very special meaning. Many of the families have gone through challenging times. Some were even separated from their kids like Deshawn Brannon.
“My daughter went to the school and told the school that my boyfriend at the time had beaten her ninety nine times and once with a belt buckle, so they got taken away. I wasn't able to see them or anything and it was the worse day of my life,” said Brannon.
She says it turns out that wasn’t true, but she did everything she could to get her kids back. She found the help she needed through local programs and Douglas County Juvenile Court. “It was the best thing knowing that I had someone that I could lean on, that had my back all the way through, that would take me every step of the way,” said Brannon.
Now six months later she has her kids back and she can celebrate. That’s exactly the idea behind the picnic. Judge Doug Johnson organized the first one in Douglas County four years ago. The picnic isn’t just a time for the families to celebrate, but also those who worked tirelessly with them.
"We move through families and cases every day, but we don't stop and take account of the success that they've had and just celebrate that, so it's a nice way for everyone to share in the joy,” said Judge Johnson. For those people, seeing the smiles on the reunified families faces is the only thank you they need.