(Memphis) There's hope for drug addicted children and their mothers.
Wednesday, the first woman graduated from the Shelby County program called "Born Addicted."
The program was started 18 months ago by Drug Court Judge Tim Dwyer.
He says it’s the most worthwhile program he's ever been involved with.
“I would like to recognize Amanda McHan,” said Judge Dwyer on stage at the auditorium at 201 Poplar.
McHan didn’t graduate from a program involving term-papers and grades but one that required drug testing and 12-step meetings.
“Cocaine. It was horrible. I tried for years to get sober,” said McHan.
The worst of it, she says, was the day she gave birth to her son, who was also addicted to drugs.
Authorities charged McHan with reckless endangerment, “I still have shame. I probably always will.”
Instead of going to jail, McHan went to drug court where Judge Dwyer made her the first participant, and now first graduate, of the program called "Born Addicted."
“We worked very hard to get this off the ground,” said Judge Dwyer. “It's what needed to be done for a long time.”
The program is 18 months long; sixty days residential, followed by outpatient treatment.
There are drug screenings and participants have to check-in three times a day.
They all have the same hope.
“I wouldn't know what to do if I didn't get Aden back,” said McHan to Judge Dwyer. “And I will never be able to repay you.”
The hope is that like Amanda, women will be able to hold and care for their children again.
“He very healthy, very smart,” said McHan. “So I thank God for that every day.”
Her son is now 19 months old.
Mchan was able to get him back when he was six months.
“It’s a wonderful thing. It is very rewarding for us,” said Judge Dwyer.
It’s rewarding for the judge, who created the program, as well as for the women whom are lucky enough to graduate from it.
“I just hope you continue this so other mothers can get their children home where they belong,” said McHan to Judge Dwyer. “Thank you.”
Another benefit of the program is that the women who graduate get their reckless endangerment charges expunged from their record.