November is National Adoption Month, and CASA of Liberty/Chambers Counties is celebrating and supporting the many families in our community who have welcomed a child into their home through adoption—with a special spotlight on adoption by relatives.
“As advocates for the best interest of children in foster care, at CASA we have seen ‘family’ take on many forms. All loving families are beautiful,” said Kimberly Stephens, executive director of CASA of Liberty/Chambers Counties.
“When we think about adoption from foster care, many of us think of it in terms of adoption by a non-relative. What many don’t all realize, however, is that it’s also quite common for a child to be adopted by or live with a relative or family friend,” Stephens explained.
“Often, when a child cannot safely go back home with their parents, then their grandparents, aunts, uncles and other family members step up to care for them. This is known in the system as ‘kinship care,’” Stephens said. “In some cases, children may even live with family friends, coaches, teachers or mentors— known as ‘fictive kin.’ Keeping children with people they know is what CASA volunteers and professionals in the system strive for, because it helps keep them connected with their community and loved ones.”
Take this story of twin brothers DaShaun and Micah, and their Grandma Mabel.
DaShaun and Micah moved foster homes four times in the past year, and they needed stability. One day, DaShaun and Micah told their CASA volunteer Daniel about memories with their Grandma Mabel. Daniel shared this with the others on the boys’ case, and they were able to locate and contact her. She was relieved to know the boys were safe and indicated she would gladly care for them. DaShaun and Micah were able to move in with Grandma Mabel. They are happy to be back in a familiar home with family and to start the process of healing.
A few months later, the twins were officially adopted by their Grandma. After years of moving from placement to placement, Micah and DaShaun are finally in a safe, caring, and permanent home, with someone they know and love—and who unconditionally loves them.
While some details have been fictionalized, this story is based on real-life situations for children in foster care, their families and their CASA volunteers.
CASA volunteers are everyday citizens from the community who are screened and trained, and appointed by a judge to advocate for a child’s best interest in court. They work collaboratively with the professionals on the child’s case, including the caseworker, attorneys and others. Their top priority is to advocate for the child to reunify with their parents whenever safe and possible. When this is not an option, they advocate for the child to live with and be adopted by other family members or friends, or with a caring adoptive family.
“This month, we’re taking the time to show our appreciation for the diverse families in our community who are nurturing and raising children they’ve adopted from foster care,” Stephens said. “Thank you for giving them a safe, permanent and unconditionally loving home where they can heal and grow!”
For more information on the work of CASA volunteers and to get involved, visit www.casalctx.org or call Melanie Cotten at 409 781-8035. The next training/information session is each Thursday 1 and 6 p.m.