Home At Last: The Joyful Return Of My Daughter

I thanked the heavens for giving me a second chance to make everything right.

Young girl hugging her mother, reunited, church stained glass naturalista | Canva, Dragonna | Shutterstock

Editor's Note: This is the second part of a three-part series. Read the first part here and the second part here.

Despite months of trying, I was no closer to my goal of bringing my daughter, Victoria, back home to live with me. She had been staying with her Aunt Rebecca for close to ten months, and I had neither the finances nor the mental stability to get her back.

Sometimes, I wondered if I’d ever see her again.


Although Rebecca wasn’t Victoria’s legal guardian, my daughter had everything a little girl could want at her house. There were days I couldn’t afford to feed myself, and I couldn’t risk anything like that happening to Victoria.

Since I was being paid for my transcription job by the line, I tried to type as much as possible to make my paychecks bigger. However, there were days I couldn’t work at all because of severe depression and anxiety. Just when I thought I was going to get ahead, my mental illness sabotaged me at every turn.


I worried about being able to eat and pay my rent, finally realizing that I couldn’t do either one in the next month. The fear of being thrown out in the street triggered an endless cycle of panic attacks on top of my depression which made the work situation even worse.

I remained grateful to Rebecca, who made sure Victoria had a pretty room to sleep in and plenty of food.

Even though I missed her terribly, at least she had stability in her life. Rebecca gave more than I could ever provide for my daughter. My ex-husband allowed my sons to come and visit for short periods, but it never seemed like enough time. I hated myself for not being able to fulfill my obligations as a mother.

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One day, on the way back from the store, I noticed a little church on the side of the road. I’d driven past it dozens of times, but for some reason, it stood out to me that day. I pulled into the parking lot without thinking and sat in my car for a minute.

What was I supposed to do here? My gut told me to go inside, but the idea itself was terrifying. What was I going to say? I knew the church was Christian. My kids used to go to the preschool next door before they were taken away from me. I wondered if the people inside would think I was crazy for just walking in. Maybe I was crazy. That’s what Micah always used to say before I left him. He said it so many times that I stopped questioning if it was true.

I opened the front door, and a man appeared in the hallway and waved at me. I waved back meekly and stood in my spot until he walked over to greet me. He was a young guy, maybe in his early twenties. He towered over me as he stretched out his arm to shake my hand.

“Can I help you with something?” he asked kindly.


“I’m not sure,” I admitted with tears filling my eyes. “I don’t know what to do.”

It was the truth. All I knew was that I couldn’t keep going down the same path that led nowhere.

I was lonely and desperate for my children, but I knew they wouldn’t be back unless something drastically changed in me.

Most of my friends and family were long gone because they got tired of seeing me make the same mistakes over and over. I couldn’t manage my life, and I knew I had to start doing that before trying to manage the life of my daughter.

The young man ushered me to their conference room and told me to have a seat. He left for a few minutes, and when he returned he had another man with him. He looked a little older with darker hair, but he offered me the same nice smile.


“I’m David,” the man said. “You’ve already met Sean.”

I couldn’t look either one of them in the face because I was ashamed. I started to cry and didn’t stop for a long time. The two men sat down on either side of me.

“I’ve lost everything,” I told them. “My two boys live with their father, and I don’t see them very often. My sister-in-law took my daughter to Orlando so I could get myself together, but I don’t know how to do that. I’m afraid I will never see her again.”

“Why do you think that?” David asked me.

“Because I’m mentally unbalanced and can’t take care of myself,” I cried. “I can’t afford to get my medications on a regular basis, and that only makes it harder. I’m about to be evicted from my apartment. I thought leaving my abusive husband would make things better, but nothing has changed in my life.”


I looked again at the floor again, unable to look them in the eye. It embarrassed me that my life was such a mess. I was a grown adult who couldn’t handle a normal life like everybody else.

I said a tiny prayer that they wouldn’t advise me to go back to my husband and work things out. There was nothing left in our relationship. He yelled, pushed, shoved, and shook me so often that I’d been diagnosed with PTSD due to his abuse. Going back was not an option, even if the church frowned on divorce.

I finally looked at the men with tired eyes. “I don’t know where else to turn. I don’t think God actually hates me. I really need some guidance.”

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David and Sean excused themselves for a minute. I worried that they might think I was some kind of con artist. I hadn’t asked them to give me anything except advice on what I should do next besides going home and ending it all. I’d been having suicidal thoughts with my depression that scared me. I honestly thought it wouldn’t take much to push me over the edge.

David returned with Sean, and they both sat down again. I was shocked when they told me they wanted to help me get back on my feet.

Sean said he would help me write a budget for income and expenses. I hadn’t worked in a few days, and I worried that I might not have a job anymore. I promised myself that I’d work harder than ever if I wasn’t already fired.

“Here’s something for now,” David said, handing me two plastic cards. One was for the local grocery store, and the other card was for gas. I was too desperate to say no, although I still felt guilty for taking them. I’d been rationing what food I had at home.


“Thank you so much,” I said to them. “I don’t know how to repay you.”

Sean spoke up. “We were thinking we could help with your rent this month and maybe a few more gift cards. You could pay us back by doing some work around the church when you’re not at your other job.”

I said yes immediately. I’d do whatever work they wanted, and then I wouldn’t feel so bad for being in debt to them.

For the first time in months, I felt the tiniest spark of hope. If David and Sean were willing to fight for me, maybe I could fight for myself.

“What’s your relationship with God?” David asked me in a friendly voice.

“I believe in Him,” I answered honestly. “To be honest, I never grew up being a part of any religion, so I don’t know as much about Him as I’d like.”


David patted my arm. “Well, we have services here every Sunday morning if you’re able to come.”

“I’d love to,” I told him. I really meant it.

As I drove home, my heart was full of joy. Not only did I get the guidance I was looking for, but those people believed in me and wanted to see me succeed. For the longest time, I didn’t think I was worth anything. However, David and Sean saw something in me that was valuable.

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On my first morning at the church, I helped paint the outside of the building. The next day, I helped make the brochures they handed out during services. After that, I worked in the kitchen of the cafeteria where they sold juices and pastries. There was something new to do every day. I was grateful for the work even though it was challenging at times.


I continued working my transcription job in the afternoon and evenings. It wasn’t long before I had some money put together. I felt a sense of stability that I’d never had before. My ex-husband even noticed a difference in me and allowed the boys to visit more often.

As promised, I went to church services every Sunday and listened closely. Over time, I believed that God wanted the best for me no matter how much I had messed up. After all, something led me to seek out the church in the first place. I wondered if it was God’s hand that led me there because He loved me.

I kept my life very simple between church and work for the next few months. I also tried to eat better and get enough sleep rather than staying up all night anxiously smoking cigarettes. I learned how to show gratitude for the things I had, and it helped me to pause and say a little prayer when I got overwhelmed.


Most of all, I thanked the heavens for giving me a second chance to make everything right.

Around that time, a friend of mine offered to let me stay with her in exchange for much less rent than I had been paying. I jumped at the chance to save more money, and I also looked forward to not being so isolated. Unfortunately, the new place was too far away for me to keep working at the church.

I told David the next day. He was happy for me but said that everyone would be sad to see me go. Everyone had been so kind to me, from the lady who ran the café to the office manager who prayed with me every time I felt anxious. None of them ever treated me like a loser, but instead like a woman trying to find her way home. It seemed like I was on the right path.

Over the next few months, I stayed with my friend and tried to stash away as much money as possible. When I was ready, I got my own place with a bedroom for Victoria. When I called Rebecca to let her know how things were going, she confided that she and her husband had been having problems.


She told me it might be time for Victoria to come home.

My daughter came to live with me again shortly after that phone call. At first, I was terrified that she wouldn’t remember me again or that I’d do something wrong. Both of us were awkward for the first few days, but soon she was running into my arms, laughing with me and letting me hold her tight.

As time went by, Victoria talked less about Aunt Rebecca and started to trust that I was her mommy who loved and cared about her. When her brothers came to visit, we felt like a real family. Victoria was too young to understand everything that had happened at age four, but she was happy and content. It was all that mattered.

I’ve never forgotten David and Sean along with everyone else at that little church who helped me in my darkest hour. I’m so grateful that God brought me there in the first place. The path wasn’t easy, but it led my daughter back home to me. Watching her grow up has been a precious gift I never thought I would have.


Best of all, I began to have faith in myself. Maybe that’s what God wanted all along.

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Glenna Gill is a writer and blogger from Charlotte, North Carolina. Her articles have been featured in Scary Mommy and P.S. I Love You. When I Was Lost is her first full-length book, a memoir of love, loss, and hope.