One day after taking her last hit of methamphetamine, Linn Thomas gave birth to a baby boy. Just days later, Oregon’s Department of Human Services took custody of him. The World reports:
That moment would change her life forever. She had experienced a lot of hurt and betrayal in her young life, but never a pain this deep. The abuse [Thomas] endured in her teenage years, both physical and sexual, didn’t compare to this. But in her darkest hour, Thomas had a rare moment of clarity.
“I was in shock. I was angry,” she said. ‘But in my mind I was saying, ‘I’m going to make the changes to get my son back. Whatever it takes.’”
As Linn headed down the long road toward reclaiming custody of her son, he was placed with foster parents Rod and Leslie Barnts. They formed a strong bond with the boy that reflects the commitment and passion they have for fostering children:
“I wanted to wake up in the morning and feel like I was making a difference,” Leslie said. “This is like a calling. The kids are their own reward. All it takes is an ‘I love you’ or a hug.”
After a year, Linn graduated from a drug treatment program, took parenting classes and proved to DHS that she was ready to reclaim custody of her son. His connection with his foster parents never waned. Linn and the Barnts formed a unique relationship based on their shared love for the boy:
The relationship between Thomas and the Barntses is unlike many others in the foster care system. The Barntses developed such a close bond with the boy in their year caring for him that they chose to help and mentor Thomas as she stepped into a parenting role.
“She has come a long, long way,” Leslie said. “I have a great affection for her, but I am brutally honest with her. She used to have no parenting skills.”
“We speak three times a day,” she said. ‘I had to teach her how to cook. How to put the baby down. She really does love him, though, and has come a long way.”
A touching bit of proof came three years after losing her son:
Thomas said that when she bathed her son on Mother’s Day, he looked at her and said, “Happy Mother’s Day. I love you.”
Thomas’ world stopped for that moment. Not believing what she had just heard, she asked him again, “What did you say?”
The little boy who had been taken away from her hours after giving birth looked up, smiled, and said, “Happy Mother’s Day. I love you.”