Nineteen months ago 35-year-old Amanda Mchan of Memphis caused her to lose custody of her son the day he was born.
Fast forward to Wednesday. She not only has her son back but she is drug free thanks to a new program called "Born Addicted," which was created by Shelby County Drug Court and the District Attorney's office. The program is aimed at helping mothers addicted to drugs reunite with the children they loss due to that addiction.
Mchan graduated but it wasn't from an educational institute. She is the first graduate of the "Born Addicted" program. She is one of 17 men and women graduating from the county's drug court.
Mchan was charged with misdemeanor reckless endangerment in 2011 after her newborn tested positive for cocaine.
"That was the worst feeling in the world that I couldn't do the job I was put on this Earth to do, that I wasn't capable. That was my bottom. I realized then I needed help and a lot of help."
So Shelby County Drug Court Judge Tim Dwyer, like he has with hundreds of others, gave Mchan a chance.
"She did not have custody of her child," Judge Dwyer said. "She got into the program, she got her life back. The courts were convinced that she would be a good mother and she has been a wonderful mother. We're here to celebrate that day."
The 18-month-long "Born Addicted" program is for criminally prosecuted mothers who abuse drugs while pregnant. Instead of sending the mothers to prison, the court addresses the mother's drug addiction issues in hopes of reuniting the mother and child. Those in the program face mandatory drug testing, out- and in-patient treatment options, phone calls three times a day, and checking in with counselors or drug court program members.
"This is about getting children back where they belong and the focus of 'Born Addicted,'" D.A. Weirich said. "The focus of drug court, you saw all the mothers and fathers and wives and husbands, sons daughters who stood up in support of loved ones who were here graduating today."
The relapse rate is 43 percent lower than the national average, program officials said.
Mchan and three other mothers in the program were reunited with their children, a sign "Born Addicted" is working.
"There is no way that I could ever repay him," Mchan said of Jude Dwyer. "If it wasn't for him getting me in the program I wouldn't have never been able to get my son back myself."