It is Adoption Month
As a CASA I have had one case (out of about 8) go to adoption. The Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS to us CASAs) first priority with dependency cases (when kids go into foster care) is reunification.
But after a while (children should really stay in DCS custody no longer than 18-24 months) DCS will move the case plan over to adoption as appropriate. Indeed, last year over 300 children in Arizona dependency cases got adopted. I will point out here, it is easy to adopt a baby or a child, as opposed to a teenager.
My case had twin boys, age two and 2 older boys age 4 and 7. Their biological parents were both going to be incarcerated for over 7 years. Grandma’s, Grandpa’s, Aunties, Uncles, or even (what DCS calls) fictive kinship*? None could be found that would be appropriate or able to take on small children. These 4 boys were placed in 2 different foster homes with parents who had expressed interest in adopting the children. Each family also expressed interest in keeping the familial connection with the children.
The children remained in DCS custody for almost a year, becoming part of their new families. As a CASA I visited both families and enjoyed how the boys were all adapting to their new milieu. The 4 year old, was having the most difficult time. He was striking at others, especially the family pet. Therapy and love and logic parenting helped this child to express his anger in positive ways. Childhood trauma is real, and something that expresses itself in different ways.
As a CASA, I was aware of the parents’ sentences. I remember the last time the boys saw their biological mother. It was in court. She knew she was giving up rights to her children. The boys could not hug, or even touch her as she was in chains and on her way to prison. She was in tears. The boys were in tears. Everyone was in tears. The mother told the judge she knew this was best for her boys. It was a sad day for all in the courtroom.
Adoption day took place a few months later. The boys then were already calling their adoptive parents Mom and Dad. It was a happy day.
I haven’t kept in touch with the parents or children. As a CASA, my job is over when the case reaches permanency. I knew this case had, and felt my presence would just confuse the matter.
Happy adoption month.
*Fictive kinship is a non related person(s) who has a relationship with the child prior to the child coming into DCS custody. Think a teacher or a next door neighbor.