There was an emotional family reunion at the home of Betty and Raymond Mitchell on the the second Saturday in November. It was a reunion long in the making.
Relatives came to meet DJ, whom they had not seen in nearly a dozen years. DJ is 14 now. He is the son of Betty’s daughter, who died when DJ was two. DJ’s father took custody and then broke off communication with Betty’s side of the family. Betty was heartbroken. She was also very worried about the care DJ would receive to tend to his special needs. He was born with hydrocephalus and doctors had installed a device to relieve the chronic pressure on his brain.
Last fall, Betty learned that DJ had been sent into the foster care system in Texas. Betty located DJ in the system, went to see him in Texas, and then began working on the process to adopt him. At the time, Betty and her husband Raymond, who had been married for about a year, were in senior living. They needed a home to make the adoption possible.
The Mitchells completed a homebuyer education course with Southwest Solutions and then for qualified for a $15,000 downpayment assistance grant offered through our HomeLIFT program. This enabled the couple to buy a home in northwest Detroit. They moved in May, and Betty then began the “home study” requirements so she could complete the adoption process. She had already visited DJ twice in Texas and she spoke to him regularly on the phone. She knew that DJ desperately wanted to be with family that loved him.
“I know that DJ has had a very hard life and he has many problems that will need to be addressed,” Betty said. “But when he is back with us and he knows he is loved and protected, he will be good. He has a big family here and we will take good care of him.”
Two weeks before Thanksgiving, DJ arrived at his new home. Two days later, his aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives came by the house to celebrate his return. Each embraced him, welcomed him to the family, and offered words of support.
“You don’t need to worry about a thing,” an aunt said to DJ while holding his hand tenderly. “From this day forward your days will be filled with love and laughter.”
“You may not remember your mother, but I knew her well,” said another aunt to DJ. “I can tell you one thing for sure. Your mother is in heaven and rejoicing today because you are back in the arms of your adoring family.”
DJ said that he is excited to start his new life. Even in his darkest days when he felt most alone and afraid, he never gave up hope that family would find him and give him a chance to have a better future. DJ wants to be a police officer when he’s older. The reason, he said, is so he can help other people who are suffering.
Betty is now connecting with Southwest Solutions so DJ can receive mental health counseling. “If not for the caring people at Southwest Solutions, I’m not sure how we would have got DJ back where he belongs,” Betty said. “That’s why I know in my heart that Southwest Solutions is the right place to take care of DJ’s needs.”