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Claire’s Story

Written by Legal Aid WV


Claire came to Legal Aid of WV (LAWV) two years ago through her recovery program at Rea of Hope, a 12 step-based fellowship program for West Virginians struggling with addiction.

“When I first started the program, it was solely because I wanted to get my kids back,” Claire says. Entering Rea of Hope, she no longer had custody of her two children after Child Protective Services (CPS) got involved. “I lost custody. I was extremely tired. I was mentally, physically, emotionally beat down, and I was tired of solely focusing on getting high and my toxic relationships.”

Though she had tried entering treatment before, Claire was determined to make it work this time, at first for her kids, but eventually, for herself, too.

“Once I stayed at Rea for a bit, I noticed these other women were doing great things,” she says. “They were inspiring, and I thought, ‘I want to be like that one day.’ It made me want to do it for myself and the long-run.”

Through Rea of Hope, Claire got a referral to a LAWV Recovery Medical-Legal Partnership attorney, who specifically addresses legal problems for those in recovery. Since 2018, the program has worked with multiple treatment facilities in the state to provide clients with resources that help them re-enter their communities, avoid relapse, and work toward their goals.

Her attorney says her case initially seemed like it could go either way for Claire. Once CPS gets involved in cases, it’s difficult for parents to change their custody situation, and Claire’s ex was not responsive to her requests to see her kids.

“We try to look at the facts and prepare our clients’ expectations,” he explains. “Even getting the facts was a process in this case because I didn’t know what had happened before Claire got into recovery.”

Claire and her attorney did not give up.

Over time, they were able to get visitation set up so she could see her kids and re-establish a relationship with them.

“Building that relationship was hard,” says Claire. “I didn’t know my kids anymore and what they liked or who they were. They didn’t know me. I was learning them again, and I was really nervous. I have young kids, too, and they were able to come to the visits. We all learned together.”

Claire and her ex now share custody of their children, and she says things have gotten easier for everyone involved. They are creating a new normal.

“I think one of the most outstanding parts of this case was everyone involved complimented Claire on the work she did in recovery,” her attorney says. “The CPS prosecutor, the guardian ad litem in the case—they all said they were proud of her.”

Because of her time at Rea of Hope, Claire has been able to maintain steady employment at a great job for the past three years, save up enough to buy a house, and repair her family relationships.

“When I came into recovery this last time, I did everything differently than before,” says Claire. “I saved money, and I bought my house on my own. I was able to get a car. To be able to do those things on my own without anybody’s help felt really good.

“The relationship my kids have with each other is just love. Life is good. I’ll be driving to work sometimes, and I’ll feel like, ‘I can’t believe this is my life.’ I came from this person who didn’t have anything to where I am now.”

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