Talking about themselves, neither paints a pretty picture of the past.
Gene Scott fought drugs and lost, doing prison time 20 years ago in California. He’s been sober 19 years, runs his own Tacoma business.
Adrienne Scarcella was so caught up in methamphetamines she didn’t know she was pregnant, had her son taken away hours after his birth.
Both ran afoul of the law — and state Child Protective Services — and both could have staggered off into oblivion. What changed their lives for the better were the children each had and the drive to get them back.
On Friday at Wapato Park in Tacoma, Scott, Scarcella and their families will be among more than 60 people invited to a special party thrown by court-appointed special advocates.
It will be a celebration of those who fought their way to being the parents their children deserve — and for the children now reunited with a mother or father.
“I’m 61 and can’t afford to be,” joked Scott. “My ex-wife is the mother of my 9-year-old son and twin 6-year-old daughters, but she was still hooked on drugs. I thought she ought to have a place in their lives.”
A good motivation turned disastrous four years ago. The woman visited Scott’s home and did drugs. Though he says he did not do drugs, police arrested him after an altercation with his ex-wife, and he wound up doing 30 days in jail.
“My first day out of jail, I found my work van stolen, the electricity turned off and the kids gone,” Scott said. “The first thing I did was contact CPS to find out what I could do to get them back. It was heartbreaking, thinking I might lose them.”
Scott went through a year of domestic violence classes. A carpenter, he found a South Tacoma home in disrepair and contacted the owner. If Scott fixed it up to the point where he could move his family in, would the owner consider selling it to him? He would.
Scott was reunited with son Malachi and daughters Jean Ella and Jeanette. He also has a 26-year-old son, Jason, who has multiple sclerosis. They all now live in that house together. It’s a work in progress.
So is Scott.
“I’ve been a productive member of society for 20 years, and made a mistake letting my ex-wife visit the children,” he said. “Now, I drop them off at school at 8:30 a.m., pick them up at 3:30 p.m. I manage to find work, and I’m remodeling a house for a woman now.
“I pay the rent, keep the power and water on, and I love my kids.”
Scarcella’s road back to motherhood was longer than what Scott endured. She probably had further to go.
“I’d moved to Tacoma from Kentucky, where I’d had a daughter, and I was homeless for two years,” she said. “I escaped into drugs. I didn’t think I could be a good enough mother.”
After giving birth to son Giahni in 2010, she told doctors about her drug history. CPS removed the child to a foster family, and Scarcella returned to drug use. Periodic attempts to go straight failed.
She was arrested for forgery and fraud. When those charges were dropped, she took it as a last opportunity to find herself.
“The Phoebe House took me in, got me off the streets and I went to inpatient counseling for 60 days,” she said. “I was treated for post-traumatic stress syndrome — I’d been raped years earlier.”
In September 2011, her attorney advised her to sign away her parental rights. Adrienne refused. She went back to school, is working toward becoming a veterinarian.
Last April, she was granted custody of Giahni and began a telephone relationship with her 10-year-old daughter in Kentucky.
“I got that piece of my heart back with Giahni,” said Scarcella, now 29. “We’re doing really well. He gives me purpose, makes everything worth it. I missed the first two years of his life, but we’re making up for that. He’s my life.”
Scott, Scarcella and the other success stories who will party Friday are the greatest hits of the folks at CPS. As probation counselor Janice Bridges said, they’re the result everyone hopes for.
“When the state gets temporary custody of children, by law, we work toward reunification of the family,” Bridges said. “It doesn’t always happen. When it does, it’s worth celebrating.”Larry LaRue: 253-597-8638 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/larue