AN ADOPTION STORY
Caseworkers from Child Protective Services carried the frail little girl into my living room and into my life. I was a new Foster Parent. Hailey was dressed in a faded blue hospital gown. She was four years old, a victim of child abuse. Bruises covered much of her body. She had been treated and released from Children’s Hospital hours before we met. She was quiet, still and whimpering.
Caseworkers shared with me what they knew about Hailey’s medical condition. They told me a little about her case and after promising to come back and check on us they left.
The next few days and weeks were filled with visits to numerous doctors and therapists. During this time Hailey’s medical condition worsened. It was necessary for her to return to the hospital. Due to brain trauma sustained during the original episode of abuse Hailey could no longer sit, stand or walk. Doctors had done all they could for her. The prognosis was bleak. When doctors released Hailey they said she should begin Physical Therapy as soon as possible, but what Hailey needed more than anything was love.
As soon as Hailey’s health improved enough to travel CPS arranged for her to visit her birth family. We traveled back and forth to the CPS office weekly. It was a difficult for all of us. After one particular visit, Hailey’s caseworker told me about a new group of community volunteers interested in helping abused children. She told me a volunteer from the group would like to come to our home and visit with Hailey and me.
A few days later we met Hailey’s CASA volunteer. Her name was Laverne. Laverne visited with us weekly. She quickly became a dear friend to both of us. She worked tirelessly to forge a path through the case confusion that included birth family, policemen, social workers, judges, attorneys and therapists. Hailey looked forward to her visits with Laverne. She waited at the window for her car to appear for each visit. Laverne was Hailey’s guest at school on Grandmother’s Day and she helped start a Teddy Bear collection that is cherished today. Most importantly Laverne was the one who took the time to listen to what Hailey had to say.
There were many tough decisions to be made regarding Hailey’s future. Laverne made it possible for Hailey to have a say in those decisions. Doctors were amazed at Hailey’s complete recovery. They referred to her as the child that love healed. I am convinced that we owe it all to a loving and caring CASA volunteer. Thank you, Laverne. We love you.
Hailey always displayed amazing courage, even through the toughest times. She is one of my heroes. She is currently a student at Massachusetts Bay Community College near Boston working toward a degree in Psychology while working three jobs. I have had the privilege of being her Mom since that first day caseworkers introduced us. Her adoption was finalized two years later.
REUNITED - Another Success Story
In September 2016, CASA welcomed Kim Rogers* as a new volunteer. After she was sworn in by the court, Kim took on two separate cases, both infants who were being cared for in separate NICU units in Dallas. One baby had serious kidney problems, while the other was simply failing to thrive in her first weeks of life. Upon learning the details of the babies’ cases, Kim decided that it wasn’t enough to see the babies once a month, which is the minimum standard for CASA volunteers.
She decided to visit each child once a week and would spend hours holding these fragile girls, rocking them, talking to them and visiting with the nursing staff about their medical needs. Because Kim was there, these babies came to know the security that a warm, loving touch can provide and not just the pokes and prods of medical exams. Kim also attended court hearings to provide a voice for these tiny babies and kept in touch with the CPS caseworkers and medical providers. She noticed when one girl’s biological mother, Sunny*, began to make progress with her services.
As Sunny visited her daughter more and more and began learning how to care for her extensive medical needs, Kim scaled back her visits to every other week, allowing this mother time to bond with her child. Toward the end of this particular case, as the baby was ready to be discharged, CPS located a foster home in Houston. However, Kim and CASA objected to moving the baby that far from Dallas, as it would have impacted Sunny’s weekly visits with her daughter.
Because of Kim’s advocacy, CPS decided to wait until Sunny completed the medical training she would need in order to care for her daughter full time. In May 2017, the baby went home to her mother, grandfather and great-grandparents. All are trained to care for her, and the family has support from in-home medical staff. Kim’s extensive knowledge of the case gave her the ability to provide staunch advocacy for this child. Without her efforts, this baby girl might have lingered in the system far longer than she did. Because of Kim, the baby has been reunited with her family and is thriving. This is a perfect example of the difference a CASA volunteer can make in a child’s life.
*Name has been changed to protect client confidentiality