Yolanda Miller spent more than a decade fighting her addiction to crack cocaine. During that time, she struggled as 10 of her 11 children were taken away from her. Late last week, however, Miller was reunited with her family thanks to hard work--and a fairly new Illinois law that restores parental rights.
The law, which went into effect in January of 2010 and was sponsored by state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), allows rehabilitated parents to regain custody of their children if those children were adopted by a relative, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Miller's children were taken in by their grandmother when the Department of Children and Family Services deemed her unfit, but their grandmother died in 2005.
"This is a law whose time had come," Feigenholtz said during a Tuesday press conference. (Video below) "Clearly Yolanda's children wanted to be adopted as adults to their mother, and wanted to be their mother's child again. So that speaks volumes, I think. And their mother wanted very badly for that to happen -- so badly that she got her life in order."
Feigenholtz explained that many of these children end up orphaned when their relatives die, and parents who have cleaned up their act struggle for years to regain their rights. Before the law was passed, Illinois did not have a process in place to reunite families in these situations.
“I knew it wasn’t my mom’s job to raise my kids; it was my job,” Miller said at the Tuesday conference. “So I did what I had to do to get them. I got my life back together.”
NBC Chicago reports that rights to four of Miller's children, two minors and two adults, were restored in late June. She has a pending court date where she will try adopting her other five children.
“Yolanda Miller is one of those parents. ... Yolanda has done exactly what society has asked her to do," Feigenholtz said Tuesday.
WATCH Feigenholtz discuss the law here:
View more videos at: http://nbcchicago.com.
Start your workday the right way with the news that matters most. Learn more