April 13, 2020
Father Focus: Devin Bartos
Devin Bartos was 22 years old when his son Bryson was born six years ago. Although he was not informed about the birth of his son by the child’s mother at the time, he says it was probably just as well.
“When Bryson was born, I was not only not ready to be a father, I was unfit to be a father,” Bartos said, describing a period in his life of excessive alcohol abuse, drug usage and stints in prison stemming from his addictions. Devin found his life was on a repeating cycle of working construction jobs, excessive drinking and going to jail. He knew he had to get clean and stay sober.
Devin entered a rehab program. Part of the treatment plan included presentations from local service and support groups. One of those presentations was made by Midlands Fatherhood Coalition (MFC) about the resources they provide for fathers and their children. Devin made a mental note but continued to focus on his sobriety and getting his life together.
“My freedom was the most important thing to me at that time. I did not ever want to be locked up again,” Devin said.
That want for freedom helped Devin successfully complete his rehab program. After maintaining sobriety for six months, he was able to get his driver’s license reinstated and he began working again. It was also about this time that friends told Devin his child was living in a volatile situation with his mother and her boyfriend. Devin’s wife, Kayla, married since 2015, and his mother supported the decision to pursue custody of Bryson. Having only recently gotten his own footing, Devin had no idea how to proceed and much less how to be a father to a son he’d never known. Then, he remembered the services of Midlands Fatherhood Coalition. He called them and enrolled in the program that same day.
Over the next six months, Devin attended every weekly session and completed all core programs including Parenting and Co-parenting, Healthy Relationships, Economic Stability, Employment Bootcamp and Men’s Health. The staff provided Devin with resources and guidance on the proper way to go about obtaining custody of Bryson. Talking with other fathers during weekly group sessions helped Devin see he was not alone, that obstacles could be overcome and that being a responsible father was not easy, but essential to a child’s well-being.
After more than a year of custody hearings and mediations, Devin and his son’s mother reached an agreement to share joint custody. Last year, full custody was awarded to Devin and Kayla.
“My life has completely changed, mostly because of what I learned and the people I met in the fatherhood program,” said Bartos. “The positive environment at MFC, the positive mentoring — these people have become like family to me and my son.”
Devin has started his own construction business, True Touch, LLC, and strives to build what he calls a “normal life” for his family.
“I want to work and grow my business, work on being a happy and healthy family, eat dinner together, listen to each other and maybe even have some game nights together,” said Bartos. When asked what he liked most about his life now, he responded with no hesitation, “My son hugging me and telling me that he loves me. That’s the thing. It’s the best.”
Pictured above: Devin and his son Bryson.
Find Devin's story and other positive impacts and outcomes in our 2019 Impact Report