When Lisa Ling explored the world of foster care through the Los Angeles County's large and overburdened system, she met a 10-month-old baby named Lily. The girl was taken into custody by the Department of Children and Family Services and sent to live with a foster family after her mother, Shannon, allegedly was seen under the influence of some type of substance while in public with her daughter.
With the courts reviewing her case, Shannon sat down with Ling to share her side of the story, beginning with her history of drug addiction. The 25-year-old had only moved to Los Angeles from Utah only two weeks earlier in an effort to start over and escape the familiar situations that drove her to use in the past.
Unfortunately, she didn't find the clean start she had hoped for. When officers approached Shannon the day that Lily was taken away, she had a bag of different medications and seemed lethargic. Speaking with Ling, Shannon tried to explain why she had been acting "off."
"I really love my daughter's father and he didn't love me back," she says. "I let that heartbreak take over. I wanted to take a pill to replace somebody that hurt me."
After customers called the police to report Shannon's odd behavior, noting that she must have driven impaired with her daughter in the car, officers decided to take Shannon to jail. The moments that followed, she says, were devastating.
"I just remember they had [Lily] in the front seat. There was a window dividing us and I just couldn't get to her," Shannon cries. "I couldn't say bye."
Shannon's mother flew out to Los Angeles to join her, but didn't arrive in time to take custody of Lily before she was taken in by DCFS. Now, she must undergo her own background check to qualify as a temporary parent.
For her part, Shannon agrees that she endangered her child that day. "I feel a lot of people look at me and think I'm a bad mom. Truthfully, in that situation, I was a bad mom," she says.
Ling asks, "Do you think you deserve to have your daughter taken away from you?"
"Yeah," Shannon answers, biting her lip. "But that said, I do think that I deserve another chance."
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