Martine's Story

Making a New Life

When Martine was just 15, she was sent to the US from her home in West Africa to enter into an arranged marriage with an older man. But he turned out to be both abusive and mentally ill. Martine ran away, met an American boyfriend, and became pregnant with her daughter Soleil.

Although Martine only spoke French, the hospital where she gave birth did not provide a translator. She tried to tell hospital staff about her husband’s mental illness, but they mistakenly thought she was talking about herself and called the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). Martine was charged with neglect in Family Court and newborn Soleil was taken from her and placed in foster care.

Martine’s CFR team hired a translator and found out her real story—with the new information, they convinced the judge to return Soleil to Martine and advocated for them to live together in a supportive environment. ACS placed them both in a foster home where Martine would have support from a foster parent. CFR helped Martine engage in therapy and find work as a home health aide, and the young mother flourished.

However, the CFR team discovered that Martine’s foster mother was negligent—she refused to help Martine care for her daughter, withheld money for basic needs, and even locked her refrigerator. CFR went to court to ask that Martine be allowed to live on her own, having proven she was capable of caring for her child. The judge agreed with CFR and Martine was overjoyed. Today, Martine and Soleil live happily in their own home and with CFR’s support, are on their way staying together permanently.