We’ve all seen, heard, or read about stories of drug-addicted parents who lose their kids due to neglect. What isn’t normally shown, however, are the stories of those who have cleaned themselves up and still can’t be reunited with their children. A new Illinois law aims to change this.

After struggling with crack cocaine addiction for years, Yolanda Miller lost custody of her 11 children. Luckily for Miller’s children, their grandmother stepped in to raise them while Yolanda got herself together. After beating her addiction, Miller moved closer to her children in order to see them and aid in their upbringing. After her mother and children moved to a new neighborhood, Miller moved into the house next door and continued to co-parent with her mother, her children’s legal guardian. When her mother passed away in 2005, Miller stepped in to raise her children full time, knowing the state could take them away at any moment because she did not have legal custody. Thankfully for Miller, however, Illinois passed a law in 2009 that allow parents who have lost custody of their children to adopt them in the event that they have rehabilitated themselves and adoptive parent or guardian is a blood relative who has passed away.

Proponents of the law say it shows compassion to parents who have cleaned up their act, and helps reunite children with their parents instead of again placing them into the system.

Seven years sober, Yolanda Miller has become the first person to benefit from the new law, which is a first of its kind.

“I am not aware of another state that has this,” said Linda Coon, Miller’s lawyer. “There must be a growing recognition of this problem. There are kids whose parents are really willing and able to take them back.”

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