TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Janet Kelley didn’t know if she would be able to keep her two, adopted kids. The children were born with drug exposure, and it caused problems for them from their infancy. Now, the Topeka Family Service and Guidance Center calls them a success story. Kelley brought her children into the center when they were four and five-years-old.
“They saved my family,” she said. She did not know how to deal with her children’s problems. “There were many tear-filled nights… a lot of tears,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do; didn’t know if I would be able to continue to be their mother. Didn’t know if I was the right person at times.”
Kelley is a juvenile corrections officer. She became a foster parent, and later adopted her daughter Lauryn nine years ago. She got Lauryn’s biological brother, Jaxson, after he was born a year later. Both children went through drug withdrawals as babies. She said they cried for long periods.
“You turn off the lights and play soft music and hold them in your arms and rock them for hours,” she said. “You do whatever it takes to make them feel better, and to make them feel they’re safe.”
As they got older, the challenges of their drug exposure continued. Lauryn struggled to make eye-contact and be social. Jaxson had behavioral problems that made school and activities difficult.
“The school had to call the police a couple of times and it scared me,” Kelley said.
Kelley said she wasn’t sure if Family Services and Guidance Center could help her, but she had to try.
“I’m an independent person, and I don’t ask for help,” she said. “That’s not me. So it was very hard but I did it for my children not me.”
She has taken the kids there for the past four years. She said the key was finding people who could talk with her children and get them to open-up.
”It’s not just medication, it’s not just therapy, but it’s a connection with the people here like family,” she said.
She said the center did not only help her kids. “They’ve helped me with some things that happened in my past that I’ve never dealt with.”
Now, she said Lauryn tested for her school’s gifted program, and Jaxson is reading above his grade level as well as playing team sports. The Family Services and Guidance Center Communications Coordinator, Jim Williamson, said he wants other parent’s to do what Kelley did.
“We hope that they’ll pick up the phone and give us a call,” he said. “The services and the tools are here. Folks just need to give us a call and set up that first appointment.”
The Family Service and Guidance Center will recognize the family in part of a video at the upcoming Works of Heart Event. The event will auction 20 children’s art pieces as a way to raise money for the center on August 18th.