FJRC Executive Director Named as American Bar Association 2022 Reunification Hero
June is National Reunification Month, a time to celebrate the individuals and organizations who work to keep families together and protect children. The American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law recently named our Executive Director, Michelle Weidner, a 2022 Reunification Hero.
In the interview for the award conducted by India Jones, Legal Intern at the ABA, Michelle discussed her motivation for helping families and the experiences that shaped her advocacy efforts. She said, "Before my own family experienced a wrongful allegation, I believed the old saying, 'Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.' I thought if someone was accused of harming their child, they probably did it. I think a lot of people think that, and that this belief comes from a sincere place of fear. They worry that something bad will happen if a child is returned home." Michelle went on to say, "What I did not understand back then, and what many people continue not to understand, is that separating a child from a parent is, in and of itself, one of the most traumatic and damaging things that can happen to a child." When asked about advice she gives to client families, Weidner shared, "I encourage parents to focus on one day and task at a time and just do the next right thing as they go through the process. In the beginning, which means getting legal counsel and being as cooperative as possible with investigators, even though that can be very difficult and counterintuitive. Later this means completing recommended services, such as counseling or parent training. When parents focus on the entire ordeal, it becomes too much to handle and I have seen parents truly begin to feel helpless, but when they focus on one thing at a time, they begin to see rays of hope and are able to keep their eyes on the prize of the day they are back together as a family."
The full transcript of the award interview is available here.
While the Family Justice Resource Center was officially founded in 2018, Michelle has played a role in the reunification of hundreds of families since her own family's false allegation in 2010. To learn more about the FJRC and our work, visit our about page. In honor of Reunification Month, make a donation to the Family Justice Resource Center today so we can continue protecting children from harm and advocating for ethical practices in child abuse investigations. Thank you for your support!