Dedicated to the citizens of Mason County, Washington since 1886

Reuniting parents with their children

Shelton native Alicia Otto kicked her addictions to methamphetamine and heroin eight years ago.

"At first I fought it tooth and nail," Otto told the audience at the annual Mason County Family Reunification Day gathering June 27 at Kneeland Park in Shelton.

But being clean was the only way Otto could regain her four children, now ages 8 to 17. Now she's helping others as the program director for the Recovery Cafe in downtown Shelton.

Otto and her children were among the celebrants at the Family Reunification Day event, part of Gov. Jay Inslee's designation as June as Family Reunification Month.

Attendees won raffle prizes, feasted on pizza and sandwiches, played cornhole and had their faces painted. They also shared their stories of reuniting with their children.

Family Education and Support Services, New Directions Counseling of Shelton and Chehalis, Northwest Resources, the Timberland Library System and Crossroads Housing were among the agencies and organizations that hosted booths at the event.

According to the proclamation signed by Inslee, more than 8,000 children live in foster care in the state. More than 60% of those children will return to their families through programs guided by the courts. The designated month recognizes families who have overcome the challenges that led to their separation, connects parents with parent allies and highlights best practices in reunifying families who have been separated.

The proclamation notes "the family is the primary source of identity, self-esteem and support for children and adults and provides a critical foundation for our communities ... because of this important bond, reunification with parents is the best option and preferred outcome for children removed from their homes and placed in foster care."

The proclamation also states that parents overcoming their dependency problems are assisted by social workers, the legal system and community partners to reunited them with their children.

Otto has spent all of her 37 years in Shelton. "The kids at school would say, "Your mom is a tweaker,' " recalled her 17-year-old son, Logan Longshore.

But once Otto embraced treatment, "We could see the changes happen," he said. Now, "I have an actual relationship with my mom." The family bought a house in 2021.

"Don't give up on yourself and the process," Otto said.

Her son's advice? Support your parents when you see them actively trying to kick their addictions.

Author Bio

Gordon Weeks, Reporter

Shelton-Mason County Journal & Belfair Herald


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