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From Addict to Advocate, This Mom Relishes Role as Mentor

(Front, left to right) Kailee and Jada; (Back, left to right) Jennifer, Jeanette and Isaiah

​​Her first experience with methamphetamines happened when she was just a teen. That encounter launched what would become a debilitating relationship that shadowed her life for years.

Jeanette dabbled in drugs throughout early adulthood, only stopping when she became a mom. Raising three children offered enough distraction and motivation to keep her sober. But drugs were never far away.

When Jeanette's marriage soured, she returned to meth and spiraled into addiction.   

Alarmed by her condition, a relative contacted the Iowa Department of Human Services. The children were immediately removed from the home, and the family was referred to Boys Town Iowa In-Home Family Services® for support and counseling.

When Boys Town services began, Jeanette was defensive and dishonest.

"I was anything but easy in the beginning," remembered Jeanette. "I was still in my addiction and didn't think people should be invading my space."

Overcoming Jeanette's manipulations and suspicions took patience and effort. Boys Town Family Consultant Jennifer Everman-Kelley met weekly with the family, supervising Jeanette's visits with her children, listening to everyone's concerns and showing compassion without judgment.

Jennifer spent much of her time preparing the children – Isaiah, Jada and Kailee – for family reunification. Jennifer taught the siblings safety skills and safety planning so they would know what to do and who to call if any situation became confusing or threatening.

As for Jeanette, Jennifer gave her the resources, encouragement and confidence to "change playgrounds."​

"Jeanette needed to get away from hurtful relationships and bad environments that endangered her recovery and instead surround herself with a sober-support network," explained Jennifer​