Five years ago, Sarah and Brandon were brought into the foster care system because of severe abuse and neglect. For the first four years they were in separate foster homes. Brandon had some behavioral problems that needed to be addressed. Over the years these children have had a failed adoption and one interested adoptive family that decided against adoption before getting to know the children. Brandon was very adamant about not wanting to be adopted. Sarah, on the other hand, desperately wanted to be adopted and blamed Brandon for their previous failed adoption. She did not want to be adopted with her brother. The CASA advocate assigned to the case understood the children’s feelings, but was also sure in her conviction, that if the children could be placed together and have the chance to live normally as brother and sister, their relationship would heal. The CASA advocate was not comfortable with the easy solution of separate adoptions as it would mean as the children grew into adulthood and wanted to have a relationship a separate adoption would make that impossible.
The therapists and caseworkers involved were all feeling disheartened, but with consistent pressure from the CASA advocate the children were finally placed into a therapeutic foster home together. With the children now living together, a new CASA Advocate was appointed to the case and turned her attention to finding a family willing to adopt the children.
Tom and Cindy Johnson had just moved into the area two years ago and were looking to adopt. At an adoption informational meeting, they saw a picture of Sarah and Brandon, heard their story and were immediately interested in knowing more about both children. They were a perfect match for Sarah and Brandon, having already dealt with children with behavioral issues. Over the past year the Johnson’s have been very proactive in working with the CASA advocate and the children to ensure the transition and adoption would be successful. The first step was gaining the trust of both children, not an easy task given. The Johnson’s began meeting the children on a weekly basis and took the time to make a scrapbook for Sarah and Brandon, detailing what their new home would be like. Cindy wrote a letter to both of them outlining what their family was like. She promised to both children that while they are not perfect, they will provide a loving home, “Love on days that are easy and love on days that are hard.” Their family promises to provide structure and guidance, something that Sarah and Brandon desperately need. Through therapy and time together, Sarah has opened up to the idea of being adopted with her brother. They are now both looking forward to being adopted.
Sarah and Brandon’s story shows that despite failures, advocates can be a source of hope for children that feel lost. When a family match just wasn’t there, this advocate stuck it out and kept looking for a forever family for Sarah and Brandon. With persistence and a heart for children, she found them a forever family that has made lasting promises and has acted with quickness.