One-of-a-kind support group in Minneapolis helps mothers who have lost custody of their children – WCCO

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A group of women who sometimes feel like they have been excluded from society come together for help and healing, in what is a one-of-a-kind support group.

What happens in the group can seem intense. Bellis is a nonprofit where mothers who have lost custody of their children can find support, and it’s based right here in Minneapolis.

“I get calls from Maine, California, Missouri, Georgia, saying women in my community could be a part of it,” said general manager Jenny Eldredge. “Typically it involves substance abuse, domestic violence, mental health, incarceration, just layers of trauma.”

Such was the case for Megan of St. Cloud, who asked WCCO not to use her last name.

“I struggled with addiction for 22 years of my life. I come from a broken home, and it’s just been a struggle,” she said.

She found sobriety and faith at Adult and Teen Challenge, where she is about to graduate from a 13-month program. Unlike her peers in treatment, she will not be returning home with her children. Her teenager lives with her father in northern Minnesota, and her youngest was adopted after losing custody.

“Honestly, before coming here, I felt hopeless. I felt like I couldn’t go anywhere with my daughter and wasn’t going to hear from her,” Megan said.

But with the guidance she received from Bellis, she was able to hear how her daughter was doing from her adoptive family.

“They sent me five pictures of her, and she’s grown so much – she’s got glasses now, she’s got her two front teeth… They just let me know they were going to do whatever they could to fulfill her hopes and dreams and they know the hardest thing for me was letting her go,” Megan said. “I was in tears, I was screaming. It meant the world to me.

Bellis has in-person and online support groups for mothers who have lost their rights and mothers who voluntarily choose adoption. It is a private group, funded by donations and grants.

“For any woman who thinks ‘I don’t deserve support, I don’t deserve love, I don’t deserve happiness because of something that happened to me’, this is a place where they can come and feel fully accepted,” says Eldredge.

Bellis is a private group funded by donations and grants. The organization offers in-person and online support groups for mothers who have lost custody of their children or who have voluntarily chosen to adopt.

Virginia S. Braud