This is dedicated to Travis Holappa who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered on July 25, 2004 in Northern Minnesota. This was all due to meth. I am Travis' mother and I wish to make this devastation turn into a better thing by educating and exposing the truth about meth, the dangers, and the deadly consequences it brings about to individuals and communities.

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Location: Colorado, United States

I want to do what I can to educate people about what is going on around the world with the meth problem. I want people to know about it BEFORE they even get the idea to want to try it. It is a dangerous drug and will ruin your life as well as all those who love you. I am on a mission on behalf of my only son, Travis.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Shared parenting pairs foster parents with birth parents (Arizona)

After using heroin and meth throughout her pregnancy, 20-year-old Jolie Phelps was forced to give up her baby.

A year later, Phelps had turned her life around. She is off drugs and now has her little girl back. She's also made a friend for life in the woman who fostered her child while she recovered.

The scenario is rare for children placed into Arizona's Child Protective Services. But the agency has launched a new mandatory training program for foster parents so they can learn how to interact with their foster child's birth parents.

The "shared parenting" is in line with Gov. Janet Napolitano's 2003 Action Plan for Reform of Arizona's Child Protection System.

Shared parenting can be as simple as a note placed in the diaper bag that goes with a baby on a supervised visit with his or her birth parents. It can mean periodic phone calls or meeting for lunch, sometimes in the foster home.

The concept is sometimes out of the question, particularly if a child has been severely abused or neglected. And it's always up to the foster parents to decide how much they want to interact with the birth family.

Barbara Snell of Tucson has fostered 15 children over the past four years and always tries to have some contact with a foster child's birth parents.

She was the foster mother of Phelps's child before Phelps got her life back together.

It is painful still for Phelps to recall the day her daughter, Aryana, was born.

"When I saw her, I couldn't believe I made such a beautiful baby," she said. "And I couldn't believe how stupid I was to be losing her."

Snell took Aryana home from the hospital, and Phelps went back to life on drugs. She used for three months, she said, before coming to grips with what she had to do to get Aryana back.

Her caseworker got her into a residential treatment center, the first step in her difficult journey to recovery. She's been drug-free since January 2004.

She got Aryana back that October, one week before the child's first birthday.

"I look at her now, and I'm so grateful I worked so hard to get her back," said Phelps, now 23 and married to Aryana's father, Jon Phelps, who is also drug free. Their second daughter, Justice, was born in March.

Snell said some foster parents are nervous about CPS' push toward shared parenting.

"What they really would like is to have birth parents visit us in our homes," Snell said. "But when the birth parents are on drugs, that's not an option. You can't trust a person who's using. You don't want them to know where you live."

Kris Jacober, president of the Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents, said no one expects foster parents to welcome a drug addict into their homes.

But such interaction can be best for the foster child when the birth parent is off drugs and working on recovery, said Jacober, who with her husband has fostered seven children over the past five years.

"It shows the child that everyone's working together," she said. "If you respect the child's past, if you respect their families, it helps them feel better about being with you. And it helps them to feel better about going home."


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