Roots Reclaimed: A Family Reunification

The woman walked into the house she once called a home and took in the sight of her four children and husband. Three years prior, she walked out of this house, not knowing what was to come or how much she would miss. She just believed it was the best decision for everyone, and now she understands it wasn’t.

She took a deep breath and looked her family in the eyes. With a shaky voice, she began speaking. “I want a redo. I want to try and be back with you, my family. Please.”

Staff present could see the softness of her husband’s heart and the forgiving manner of her four children as they moved toward her, engulfing her in their arms. Ale Castro, Back2Back staff, heard from the father of the family later that same day. “Can you support her the way you’ve supported me?” he asked eagerly. “She wants to be a good mom so badly, but I think she has some healing work to do, and I want her to feel supported.”

When the Back2Back Strong Families Program first met the Alvarez* family, they were four children being cared for by a single dad recently reunified after almost 3 years in a children’s home. Their mom had left and, in response to the pandemic in 2020, the children were reunified with their father, and he needed assistance. As only the second family in Monterrey’s Strong Families Program, they connected with a father who was defeated, but eager to step into his role as provider with renewed vigor. 

“He was set on getting his children back and working to not allow their story to be one of separation,” shared Ale. “It was clear he wanted to care well for his family; they’d fled to Monterrey for a safer environment, and he wanted that safety to extend within his home.”

In the beginning, the dad worked full-time to provide for his children, but needed help while he was at work, so they weren’t left alone. The Strong Families team stepped in, helping with school work and intentionally playing with them in the interim while looking for a daycare provider. They connect with a woman who lived in the same neighborhood; she was trained in child safety, how to be a safe support system for the children, and ended up being a full-time caregiver while their dad was at work. She cooked for them, helped with homework, and offered consistent support to the children and their father as they navigated this new road together.

After a full year in the program, the family having struck a rhythm that worked well for them and supported the vision they held for each of them, their mom returned, asking for a redo.

“When their dad called me, asking if we would help support his wife in the same ways we did him, I realized just how soft hearted and forgiving he and his children were,” shared Ale. “They all desperately wanted to be a family again, and he knew if his wife could find healing and support, they could be.”

The staff psychologist met with their mom regularly, working with her on previous traumas and pursuing healing alongside her. She lacked conversational skills, didn’t know much about cooking, disciplining, and being present with her children. Her past left her feeling delayed and behind, but Back2Back staff came alongside her in every way, guiding and assisting.  Today, she is a mom completely invested in each of her children. They share a bond that is evident immediately, and she has slowly gained her voice back, advocating easily for herself and her family.

“She did the work to heal, and the transformation we’ve witnessed has been miraculous,” shared Ale.

This family was once six individuals within a system, and today they are a family thriving within their own community. They are an example to others of what intentional work and holistic care can provide and transform. On an outing last summer, the father approached staff. “I just wanted to thank you for doing this for my kids,” he said. “You’re allowing us to have fun family memories. I also wanted to thank you because this is healing me, healing the child I was who never had experiences like this. Today, I am a father who is proud and I get to be a kid with my kids. That’s such a gift. This is what motivates me to keep giving my children and wife the life they deserve.”

Back2Back Strong Families serves children, and it also serves the adults in their lives. Investment and healing are provided for entire family units, and this family of six is a shining example of why investment in both is completely worth it.

After being in the program, receiving tutoring, therapies, cooking lessons, educational support, marriage counseling, budgeting lessons, and crisis intervention, this family who was once divided and living apart is the first family to graduate from the Strong Families Program. They are one of two families participating in the first formal graduation ceremony within the program.

“We felt strongly these families were ready and able to be self-sustaining,” explained Ale. “We saw empowerment in the ways they accessed resources and started advocating for themselves, not looking to us for assistance.” With the blessing of the staff team, families were recognized for their hard work and achievements and told they had shown they could do it on their own.

Together, Back2Back staff and those who know and love the families gathered to honor the tremendous work put in to get to this place. Now, they are living above community standards, setting new precedents, and are living examples of the healing available when we address our own hurts from the root. This is the power of reunification and all the steps it takes to achieve – from faithful staff to dedicated parents, cycles are broken, families are healed, and children grow up in their own families. This is hope.

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