MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - They gave birth to babies addicted to drugs. Shelby County is helping them get their lives and children back.
The very first mother of the "Born Addicted" treatment program graduated Wednesday. She's one of almost a dozen people the court is helping beat drug addictions.
Born Addicted is an 18 month program that started last year. Instead of sending mothers to prison, the goal is to address their addiction and reunite them with their kids.
"He is very energetic. This is Aiden, say hello." Amanda McHan wouldn't be holding her 19 month old son without Shelby County's Born Addicted Treatment program.
"I finally got the help I needed," she tells abc24.com.
McHan was a drug addict. "Cocaine. It was horrible, I tried for years to get sober."
Nothing stuck until Aidan was born with cocaine in his system and taken away from Amanda.
"That was the worst feeling to know I couldn't even do the job I was put on this earth to do because I wasn't capable," she says. "He had no withdrawals thank goodness. He's very healthy. Very smart. I thank God for that everyday."
The 35-year-old is also thanking Judge Tim Dwyer of Shelby County's Drug Court.
"She did not have custody of the child. She got into the program. She got her life back," Dwyer says. "The courts were convinced she'd be a good mother and she's been a wonderful mother. We're here to celebrate that."
It's been a long 18 months.
Participants undergo random drug tests, check in three times a day and have regular court visits with Judge Dwyer.
"They want to get their children back and they work hard to do that. It's very rewarding to us," says Dwyer.
"I agreed to be on camera today because I do hope to help other people. Even though I still have shame, and I probably always will, hopefully my story can help people," says McHan.
Three other mothers have been reunited with their kids and are still in the program.
Now that she's graduated, McHan plans to go back to school to study radiology.