Children placed in loving homes while mothers serve time in pris - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Children placed in loving homes while mothers serve time in prison

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When women in prison give birth, they continue serving time. When women in prison give birth, they continue serving time.
As a single mother Cheryl Dugan is raising two boys whose biological mothers could not care for them. As a single mother Cheryl Dugan is raising two boys whose biological mothers could not care for them.
Cheryl Dugan Cheryl Dugan
Sharon Neville Sharon Neville
Kyle Neville Kyle Neville

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – As a single mother Cheryl Dugan is raising two boys whose biological mothers could not care for them.

All the boys know is they live with and love their mom, while visiting another woman.

"When you know the mom is going up for, when they're still incarcerated and they're going up for probation, there's a part of you that's praying, please don't let it end," Dugan said.

When women in prison give birth, they continue serving time. For inmates without stable families, their child may be placed with Operation Open Arms.

Sharon Neville, with Operation Open Arms, said, "The foster family has to have this constant tug of war going on in their heads: I love you forever. I might have to give you away soon."

Operation Open Arms modeled its program when Neville welcomed a baby boy in her home.

The Neville's were asked to care for an infant for 10 months while the mother was incarcerated.

"They simply made us their pilot family. Sort of fashioned what we were doing to meet what the state required," she said.

Eighteen years later, that baby boy is the Neville's son. The couple adopted Kyle when he was a child. They are the only family he's ever known.

 "There have been conversations where a kid will ask me how I was adopted if I was ever put into different foster families and then I'll explain the organization I went through - my mom was in prison," said Kyle.

Kyle's mother, now a development director with Operation Open Arms, cautions those who want to be more than foster parents.

More than half of the children in Operation Open Arms become adoptable or in permanent custody. Then there are children who go back to their biological mother.

Sharon Neville explained, "To come into it thinking, I just want to adopt a baby is far to heartbreaking."

Dugan's boys have lived with her since they were infants. Every week there are phone calls from the biological mother. They schedule bonding visits with the boys and through it all Dugan said she's prepared her heart to reunite her boys with their biological family if and when that time comes.

"If these children get to go home to their families, I will miss them and it will kill me to give them back but I would do it over and over again, you have so much love in your heart to give, these babies they just need someone to hug them, love them and tell them they're special."

Operation Open Arms is a Louisville-based non-profit organization. The organization will hold its major fundraiser, Silks in the Bluegrass, on Derby evening.

The event will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Saturday, May 3, 2014. The sixth annual charity benefit begins at 7 p.m. Tickets for the event cost $250 per person.

Fundraisers are pivotal for Operation Open Arms because most its funding derives from donations and community support.

For more information on Operation Open Arms or to attend Silks in the Bluegrass, click here.

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