Together Again: A New Beginning
Deryck Leonard was finally able to reunite with his two sons when he gained custody of them after two and a half years of separation, and is now working to pursue his newborn daughter. He shared his story as part of the Reunification Day celebration in Milwaukee on Friday, June 17.
After being released from jail, Deryck made the changes necessary to get his children back, which were previously removed from their mother's home and placed in foster care. He says that it was hard to find a job and that "it's still hard," but he's not giving up. He's been through anger management classes and one-on-one personal therapy as well as working with the courts and BMCW to prove that he is a "worthy father." He says that best thing about being a parent is hearing "the word 'daddy'" which pushes him to work harder everyday to be the best father he can to his kids.
Children's Court Presiding Judge Marshall Murray initiated Reunification Day, which recognizes the challenges parents have overcome to be reunited with their children after being placed in foster care. Governor Walker also proclaimed June 17 in recognition of the hard work it takes to safely and successfully reunify a family which has overcome an array of challenges. This initiative was supported by the Children's Court, the District Attorney's office, Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare (BMCW), and its partner agencies.
"Adoptions are special because we celebrate a new beginning for that family with a new family member," Judge Murray said. "Reunification can be just as exciting because it is also a new beginning for the family. When parents make changes and the behavioral modifications that we ask of them to safely care for their children that is a new beginning and something to celebrate."