Brittany was 11 when she started using drugs. As a young mother, she stumbled through the daily fog of her addiction, unable to function.
Until a lawyer, Amber Patterson, who was appointed by the court to represent both of her young boys, shook her with a hard reality .... the potential of losing her children. Amber went to visit Brittany at her grandmother’s home. She sat down with her on the front porch and gave it to her straight. Amber did not want to separate her family. But she told Brittany that she was not going to let her drug use jeopardize her kids’ safety.
Brittany grabbed on to this tough love. Following Amber’s advice, she got the treatment she needed and successfully completed a program through an accountability court. She retained custody of her children.
Today, she’s thriving ...as a good mom. In Brittany’s words, "I never expected a lawyer would
change my life. I thank her every time I see her."
Above: Amber and Brittany
Amber Patterson is a judge in Cobb County Juvenile Court. She was working as a Guardian ad Litem Attorney for the Circuit Defender in Cobb County when she intervened in Brittany’s life. Specifically, Patterson was appointed as Guardian ad Litem for Brittany’s children in a dependency case.
I remember meeting with Brittany on the front porch at her grandmother’s home. I could tell that she was on something. At that point, she still couldn’t see how the drugs were affecting her parenting and felt like everyone was against her. I had a brutally honest conversation with her that she described at her graduation from accountability court. It went something like this:
"Brittany, I am going to give you the cold hard facts of your case. You are on drugs. You have no job, nowhere to live and your kids are no longer in your custody. Someone else is now doing your job as a parent. If you do nothing, the state will take your kids from you forever. I will do everything in my power to not allow that to happen, if you work with me to get your life on track. I can tell how smart you are, and I genuinely believe that you can be successful if you get all the help that you need. Your kids want this for you and they need you. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it! But you need to get up. Today is the day."
She did. I asked her to go into our drug court. Today, she has completed an inpatient program, has a great job, stable housing and her kids are doing great in her care and custody. She has been clean for three years! This is a huge success for her kids (my little clients!).
While my clients wouldn’t have been able to articulate their case clearly, I was able to do it for them.
Cases like Brittany’s are the reason I do what I do. Keeping families together is the goal. And hers is a true redemption story. I am so proud of her.”