This WDRC program is the only free, safe, and legal way for parents to spend time with their children when a court order prohibits contact. For many parents, access to their children means stability. Being able to see their child is the reason they are staying sober, applying for work, or seeking stable housing.
One of those families is Tom and Samuel. Here's their story:
Samuel is 13 and up until last month, he hadn’t seen his dad Tom for 4 years. After completing treatment and taking the steps to see his kids, Tom was granted Supervised Visits with Samuel & Becky. During intake, Tom shared that he was nervous. What do you say to a child whose last memory of you was when you were at rock bottom? What do you say to a child when your ability to father was destroyed by addiction and violence? How do you rebuild trust?
The day of the first visit, I went to bring Samuel and Becky to the visit space. Samuel’s sister got out of her seat with impressive determination. Samuel looked up at me, in that way that only teens can, and told me he wasn’t going. And so, he stayed.
Becky told Tom about her school, soccer, and how much she detested vegetables. Tom listened attentively. It was clear to see his joy in connecting with his daughter. That joy was tempered by disappointment in not being able to have this same experience with his son.
For the next visit, I didn't expect to see Samuel at all. There he was, with his arms crossed. I asked if he’d like to try, just for 10 minutes and reassured him that he could leave any time. He agreed. We went into the visit room, where Tom was sitting at a round table. Becky joined him with games from the shelf, ready to play. Samuel sat on the couch, as far from dad as he could. The distance between them was palpable. Tom asked how Samuel was doing. He was met with a soft “ok” and no eye contact. Tom filled the space in the room by telling Samuel about his job and how he had an apartment of his own. Samuel continued to keep his eyes glued to the floor.
Tom kept his posture open to Samuel and patiently tried to include him in their conversation as he played with Becky. Samuel mumbled short answers. However, he inched closer to his father along the couch.
I knew that Samuel enjoyed drawing. I offered that we had an art supplies. He picked out a note pad, which he brought over to the table. They didn’t talk much. But they didn’t need to. Samuel stayed for the entire visit. And as they left the visit room, Tom hesitatingly asked, “see you next time?” Samuel replied, “yeah.”
I walked the kids back to their mom. She was shocked that Samuel had stayed the entire visit. She assured me that though she has feared for her own safety and well-being around Tom, and that she has no interest in seeing him again, that she does want her kids to feel connected to him as their father.
We are honored to continue to lay the foundation for healthy relationships within this family. This new service exemplifies the WDRC's evolution - seeing community need and stepping up to address it. We can’t do it alone though, we need your help to build peace in the lives of Whatcom County families, so Tom, Becky, and Samuel, and the many other families like them can stay connected.
PLEASE JOIN US.
Support families and young people in Whatcom County by contributing to the WDRC. Make a tax-deductible donation online or by mail to 13 Prospect St. Ste. 201.
You can also check out our Supervised Visitation Program Wishlist.
Supervised Visitation Program Manager
Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center
P.S. Double your donation - a match opportunity! “We believe that peace is possible, but feels out of reach right now. The WDRC is the local organization to help our community achieve peace. That’s why we are a part of the WDRC Giving Circle. The WDRC needs to raise $5000 by the end of the year. If you make a contribution and help the WDRC raise $2,500, we will match you dollar for dollar.”
- Nancy & John Blume, WDRC Legacy Leaders