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Boys Town Guides Father’s Quest to Reunite with Son

Bill had to get to know his son Tommy before he could really get him back.

Tommy was only 6 when his mom passed away. Bill was devastated by his wife’s death and turned to alcohol and drugs to cope. It soon became clear Bill wasn’t able to care for Tommy, and the toddler went to live with an aunt and uncle in another town.

Through a series of legal and family events, Tommy returned to his dad’s home two years later. Bill had visited Tommy a few times over the period when they were separated, but really didn’t have a close relationship with the little boy. Now, Bill was going to be responsible for his son’s care and upbringing.

But Bill wasn’t ready. His demons were more powerful than his ability to take care of his son. After the police were called to Bill’s home for the third time to investigate loud fights between Bill and a girlfriend, social services placed Tommy in foster care.

There didn’t seem to be much hope that father and son would ever be a family again. Bill didn’t have a car or a job, and eventually had to move in with a relative just to get by. And his life was still being controlled by his alcohol and drug use.

But deep inside, Bill still had a spark of motivation and determination to do the right thing for his son. He had been mired in grief over his wife’s death for so long that the spark hadn’t been big enough to push him to change the way he was living. Now, this second separation from his son had made him realize he had to change or lose Tommy forever.

A referral to Boys Town Iowa’s In-Home Family Services program was the turning point.

With the intervention of a Boys Town Family Consultant, Bill began the long journey back to being a real father. The Consultant helped Bill find full-time employment and an apartment of his own. A local charity provided furniture for the apartment, and with the Consultant’s guidance, Bill connected with other community resources that could help meet his needs.

The Consultant also began teaching Bill new parenting and life skills that would be essential if Tommy was to return to his care. Bill and Tommy saw each other during supervised visits and attended family therapy sessions together to strengthen their relationship and give Bill opportunities to practice the new skills he was learning.

Most importantly, Bill started substance abuse treatment and began seeing a counselor regularly. This allowed him to begin the long road to recovery from his dependency issues that had caused so many problems in the past.

Throughout Boys Town services, Bill continued to develop positive supports in preparation for Tommy’s return. He found a nearby school for Tommy and began attending weekly services at a neighborhood church. During their visits, Bill and Tommy went to Sunday School classes together at the church, further strengthening their relationship and their faith life.

Months after beginning Boys Town services, Bill felt he had reached a point where he was ready to be the capable father Tommy needed. Social services and the court agreed, and Tommy moved back in with his dad.

Bill will continue to need the support of Boys Town and his community resources as he and Tommy become a family again. But the two are now traveling their journey of healing together.

The stories provided about the children and families in our care are real. In some cases, names may be changed and details altered to protect their privacy and therapeutic interests.