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‘I didn’t know my worth:’ San Antonio mom reflects on drug abuse. lost kids and recovery

‘I didn’t know my worth:’ San Antonio mom reflects on drug abuse. lost kids and recovery
Written by Publishing Team

Melinda Longoria’s road to recovery has been long and difficult. Twice now, she has had criminal cases turned over to Bexar County Family Court, which is helping defendants to recover.

She missed the program the first time.

An alcoholic and drug addict, Longoria used heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and crack cocaine. She went to jail. Over the years, she has had relationships with two abusers, both drug addicts and alcoholics like her.

Longoria had four children, two with each man. His substance abuse issues cost him custody of his first two – when they were very young they went to a loving family in a closed adoption.

At 28, Longoria has no idea where they are.

“I think of them every day,” she said in an interview at her brother’s home, where she now lives. “I left it in the hands of God, but I want to one day be able to give them the love that I didn’t have before.”

The relapses almost caused him to lose his two youngest ones – “like a rerun,” Longoria said. Not so long ago. But she won back one of her youngest children just over halfway through her second attempt at the drug court program.

“I’ve been through a lot, not what I wanted to go through. But I’m better now,” said Longoria. “I’ve changed my life and I thank God for having a second chance to be a mom again.”

Family Drug Court, under the Bexar County Juvenile Court, is a five-phase program for drug-addicted parents who are in business with Texas Child Protective Services. He helps families separated by the effects of alcohol and drug abuse, with the goal of reunification, said Basil H. Franks, the court controller assigned to the Longoria case.

The program uses the power of the courts to bring together a community of care, while helping parents overcome their addiction, and it empowers them to care for their children appropriately.

And like other specialty court programs in Bexar County, the Family Drug Court is intense. Participants must take parenting and substance abuse classes, submit to and pass random drug tests, and attend therapy sessions.

Longoria had her first child at 18 and lived with the baby’s father and his family. By the time she had her second child a year and three months later, she “felt like a hostage,” she said.

“He didn’t want me to leave (the house) or do anything,” Longoria said. “He didn’t want me to see my family.

Things got violent. He was drinking and taking cocaine. Longoria said she couldn’t stop him because his parents were taking drugs with him.

She said she wasn’t addicted to her first consecutive pregnancies. After a while, Longoria moved away on her own with her two children. Life was better – she got a job at Walmart and was able to buy things, including a car. She was happy, she said.

Hanging out with friends, however, Longoria was soon drinking and drugging herself. She temporarily lost her children after San Antonio police found them in the back seat of her parked car, with her unconscious at the wheel.

“I was exhausted and passed out,” Longoria said. “I woke up to an ambulance and some cops. Someone must have reported me.

She eventually got her children back, entered drug court for the first time, and worked for the program. But Longoria allowed the family of the father of her children to stay with her, and then recovered with their father. She felt that she owed it to them, because they had helped her very early on.

Longoria ended up seeking a restraining order and a protection order against her boyfriend, who was eventually arrested and served two years for violating those orders.

On her own again, she met the man who would become the father of her two youngest children in 2015. Longoria started drinking and using again, and one day passed out while driving with her children. older, hitting a car. She woke up three days later in a hospital. The authorities had taken her children away.

The stress of not having children drove her to drink and use more drugs, she said, and she lost her job and became homeless with her new boyfriend.

Longoria missed a court date regarding her children, got another chance and did not appear a second time. A judge terminated her parental rights to the two older children, which were eventually adopted, she said.

Overwhelmed by sadness, Longoria continued to drink. “Criminal activity” with her boyfriend supported her habits, she said, and she switched from snorting heroin to injecting it, “to numb me.”

“I overdosed three times,” Longoria said, shaking her head. “It was bad. I’ve never experienced this in my life. I didn’t have to be like this. My parents didn’t raise me like that.

She served two years in prison for stealing a car. Once out, she started to use drugs and drink again. And pregnancy.

She had her son, Manuel, in May 2020, and CPS took him away. She almost lost him on a charge of endangering children and parents who thought she was not worthy of parenting.

“I thank God he was not born into a drug addict,” she said, as Manuel rested his head on his knees.

In January 2021, she found out that she was pregnant again and had her daughter, Annistey, in September. Longoria said her daughter was also not born with an addiction – “a blessing.”

With a second chance in drug court, Longoria said, she is determined to win this fight. Manuel was returned to him just a few weeks ago.

She underwent a daily urinalysis and hair follicle tests and says she has been completely sober since May, stating, “I’m done with this.”

“It’s stuck in my head how all this drugs and alcohol feel, and I don’t want that,” Longoria said. “I got lost and I lost my children. It was as if the devil was attacking me.

Longoria attends a Christian church and studies the Bible. She said her faith was paramount in her recovery and she felt like a different person.

Longoria isn’t the first mother to go through the program for the second time, and she won’t be the last, said Barbara Schafer, division and programs manager of the juvenile court, which oversees the drug court in family and has participated in the program since its inception. creation in 2003.

“Sometimes moms aren’t ready to be moms,” Schafer said. “And addiction is a reaction to trauma. You have to believe that people are going to change, and we’re here to help you do that. “

Ending parental rights amounts to capital murder in civil law, she said – there is no turning back.

“Either you come in, get help, and get it right,” or you lose custody of your children forever, Schafer said.

Franks, the court monitor, said he believed only good things would come for Longoria and her children.

“I’m very proud of her,” Franks said. “Especially with the newborn baby and his son. Her son really takes hold of the newborn baby. It’s like it’s her baby too. He wants to hug and hug and be a part of his life too.

Longoria said the support she received from the courts, her mother and brother helped her see a future she had never imagined before.

She prays every day for her elders, that one day they will want to find her and that she can tell them that she has always loved them.

Longoria can also advise others that “the bad life is just not worth it”.

“I didn’t know my worth. I’ve always settled for less, ”she said. “I’m worth something. I am someone. I survived. Now I live. Life is Beautiful.”

ezavala@express-news.net | Twitter: @ elizabeth2863

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