Angela Major
Amara Knutson and her 10-year-old daughter share their support for one another as Amara goes through Walworth County Drug Court treatment.

WATCH: Daughter motivates Delavan mother to sobriety

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Jonah Beleckis
Sunday, May 14, 2017

DELAVAN—Amara Knutson was present for her daughter for the last few Mother's Days, but not like she will be this year.

An opiate addiction, one aimed at helping her cope with the anxiety and depression of post-traumatic stress, kept Knutson emotionally distant from the holiday celebrations with her 10-year-old daughter, Kayla.

But when Knutson thought ahead to this Mother's Day, she sighed with relief.

With a clear and sober mind, she thought about the simple pleasure of just spending the day with her daughter. This will be the first Mother's Day since Knutson entered Walworth County's Drug Treatment Court program in October.

After an abusive relationship, Knutson turned to opiates to cope with her anxiety and depression. She bought prescription pain medication on the street.

“(I would) just keep fighting through life, in the wrong way, but it definitely, in the beginning, it was making it work I suppose,” she said. “The No. 1 thought on your mind is how I'm going to get through my day until I find something to ease the anxiety.”

Knutson credits her lawyer, public defender Francis Raff, with pushing to get her into the county's drug court after she was convicted of felony theft. Her first treatment court hearing was Oct. 27, 2016.

Drug court requires people to actively participate in treatment, coordinator Katie Behl told The Gazette. They are regularly tested for drugs and held accountable for their progress through frequent court appearances.

“(At) a level I can't even express, the Walworth County Drug Court program is the most gracious group of people I've ever come across in my life,” Knutson said. “I would have never imagined the justice system making me feel as valid and worth it. ... It's pretty amazing.”

Still, Knutson said the main source of support for her recovery is Kayla.

“She's my No. 1 motivation. She deserves me. She deserves all of me,” Knutson said of her daughter. “She just deserves the life that I want to give her.”

On top of keeping her sober, drug court also makes Knutson a better mother, she said. After each court session, Knutson sees values and life lessons of right and wrong she can pass on to Kayla.

Beyond motherhood, Knutson, now 34, also loves the job she has now. She is a resident assistant at Vintage on the Ponds, an assisted-living facility in Delavan.

“My passion is caretaking,” she said.

Perhaps on this Mother's Day, she will postpone the caretaking duties to let her daughter celebrate her.

Kayla was enthusiastic, yet a bit secretive, about what she was going to get for her mother.

“She's the best mom in the world, and I love her so much,” Kayla said. “We're going to get her a special card.”

Knutson said she would not be able to enjoy this Mother's Day without Kayla's influence.

“Sometimes you got to look deeper than yourself,” Knutson said. “She is a deeper purpose for me to keep going and make the right choices."

Kayla is "everything, a focus to stay sober, because I don't want to be that distant from her, so to speak, anymore. I want to be present in her life.”

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