This past month the CASA 20th staff celebrated with two teenagers and their new forever family.
This story really began when these children were born. Bounced around between family members and used as bait by their parents to steal drug money, Daniel and Laura had already been in and out of the foster care system twice. The system was failing them. It was in 2009, when Daniel (then 10) and Laura (then 9), were taken into foster care for the third time that something different happened. They were given a CASA 20th advocate.
The CASA 20th advocate, with 8 years experience, recalls meeting them for the first time, “Daniel was angry at world, and rightfully so. He had been used and abandoned by every adult in his life. Laura was trying desperately to take care of him and control his outbursts in the hope they wouldn’t get kicked out of yet another home.” For another two years the kids would continue to be bounced from home to home waiting for a family to adopt them. Caught in a vicious cycle filled with anger, distrust and disappointment the only stabilizing factor in these kids’ lives was their CASA 20th Advocate. Eventually Daniel was placed into a residential treatment center. This was key to giving him a stable living environment so they could begin to address his separation anxiety and behavioral issues.
Daniel began asking his CASA Advocate when a family would want him. After two years Daniel was finally able to trust an adult and voice his biggest fear. The person he trusted was his CASA 20th Advocate. As Daniel left the treatment facility he was placed with the Smith family. They had seen a profile piece on Daniel and become foster parents specifically so they could bring him into their home with a plan to adopt him.
During this time Laura had been placed with a foster family and without the pressure to be a caregiver for her brother was beginning to blossom. She had also become adamant about not being adopted with her brother. She was scared he would act out again and her chances at a forever family would be gone. The CASA Advocate, recognizing that in the long term an adoption together would be best in ensuring their relationship is maintained (if they were adopted separately there is no guarantee of visitation), convinced Laura to spend one weekend a month visiting with her brother.
The first few visits were hard, afraid of having her heart broken again, Laura was determined to not like it there. After a few months however, Laura began to feel at peace in the Smith family home. She began to realized that the Smith family had picked Daniel knowing all of his background and then learning that he had a sister were also willing to adopt her. The fact that they picked him first let her trust that this time she could be a sister and not a care giver.
Last month the CASA Advocate watched beaming as Daniel and Laura were officially adopted by the Smith family. These kids needed someone to be there for them consistently and unconditionally. Their CASA 20th Advocate gave them that and although it took four years they are finally thriving. Together. Forever.