JACK AND NOLAN
Severe physical abuse. Brothers searching for a safe home.
“Based on all their bruises, I’m worried about these kids,” an anonymous reporter told Child Protective Services in 2016. When CPS investigated the home of Jack and Nolan, they found malnourished children too small for their age.
When asked how they got their scars, the boys tried to say they fell - off their bikes, out of bed, while running - but they eventually ran out of explanations. The physical abuse was so severe it wasn’t safe for either boy to remain in their home.
They needed help to recover from the memories that haunted them daily. Jack and Nolan were bound to constant nightmares and burdened with anxiety and psychological scars. Having been brought up in a home environment riddled with evil, they never understood what a healthy relationship looks like. They fought tirelessly to stay connected as brothers. With so many needs in an overburdened child welfare system, they needed a CASA.
Husband and wife team, CASA volunteers Jim and Patricia, made it their mission to keep these siblings connected in their journey towards a stable life. Trained by CASA in trauma and its effects, they knew their brotherly bond was essential to their growth and recovery. CASAs Jim and Patricia worked with CPS to find the right families who could take the children and continue their path towards healing. “One of the kid’s biggest fear is that they’d keep getting moved again and again” said Jim. They knew if the boys couldn’t be adopted together, they would need to maintain relationships that are essential to the children’s growth.
Although they were adopted separately, Jack and Nolan were able to play a part in choosing their forever home. Their families frequently gathered to celebrate birthdays, share dinners, and get togethers – connecting two families forever. “Jack was shy…once you got to know him, he opened up and was so friendly. He opened up even more once he was in his adoptive home,” said CASA Jim. When it came time for the adoptions on National Adoption Day, the CASAs not only became their voice, but part of their family.
“The beauty of this story is the kids went to the right place. The boys went to two fantastic families who are connected to each other and are willing to keep that connection,” Jaime Hernandez, CASA Supervisor.
P.S. When asked how life is, Jack’s adoptive mom relishes in the fact her family chose to adopt Jack and Jack chose them. Jack did not make the choice to be abused or neglected, or to be removed from his family. He did, however, get to choose his adoptive family. Whenever Jack acts like a typical 14-year-old teenage boy, his mother reminds him: “Well, you chose us!” and Jack can’t help but smile.
COLE, CATIE AND CHLOE
When 5 month old twins, Chloe and Catie, and big brother Cole were taken to the hospital, doctors saw bruises, cuts, and scrapes. Chloe was rushed into ICU, and once stabilized, doctors discovered she had experienced severe head trauma, brain damage, and permanent vision loss. Detectives determined mom Crystal’s boyfriend hurt their children while she was at work. Estranged from her family, Crystal found herself alone when she and her children needed support more than ever.
That’s when CASA volunteers John and Jenifer stepped in. Together with CPS, John and Jenifer reached out to some of Crystal’s other family members to find support for the children. Initially some family members thought that due to Crystal’s young age and lack of support, the children would be better off staying with their foster family rather than going back to their mom. But CASAs John and Jenifer saw what many didn’t: a mother who could turn her life around for her children, if only she had the right support. With CASA’s help, a few supporting Crystal in the beginning grew to eleven a few months later.
With family support and CASAs who believed she could do it, Crystal went above and beyond in completing CPS required services. She went to parenting classes and asked “what else can I take?” Crystal not only completed parenting classes and counseling, she got her own apartment, full time job, and embraced the family supporting her and her three young children.
CASA was the catalyst in connecting the mom to family and keeping family members engaged during the long court case. Now that Crystal is a single-mom of three children, one with special needs, the support of her family continues to provide the best possible life for her and her children.
P.S. When CASA spoke with her last, Crystal talked about bedtimes, packing lunches, and laying out clothes for Chloe, Catie, and Cole. After chaos and fear, they are all enjoying a routine as a reunited family.
JACOB & AMAYA
At one year old, Jacob’s only clothing was a pair of overalls. He had no socks or shoes. His little sister, Amaya, was a four-pound newborn going through withdrawals from opioids, easily startled and with tense muscles. With their mother struggling with homelessness and addiction, CPS knew a CASA volunteer was needed to speak up for these vulnerable children and help find the best solution in a complex situation.
CASA volunteer Gay stepped forward to be a voice for Jacob and Amaya. Gay spent time with Jacob and Amaya every other week and advocated for them to receive early intervention services needed to overcome the medical problems and developmental delays caused by their abuse and neglect. Over time, she watched them grow and thrive in a safe home. She held Jacob’s hand as he sat through his asthma treatment and Amaya felt heavier and heavier in Gay’s arms until she was strong enough to sit up and start crawling.
Eventually CPS knew they would need to find a family to adopt Jacob and Amaya, and since their CASA Gay knew them so well, she was able to help CPS find the perfect family to fit Jacob and Amaya’s special needs. After a year in foster care, these children were adopted into their forever family.
Their CASA volunteer, Gay, was the most consistent person in their young lives and was there to help the children transition to their foster placement. During the thirteen months they were in foster care they lived in three different foster homes, had three different CPS workers, but only one CASA. When one of Jacob and Amaya’s foster families took in a new baby boy, the foster mother called CASA of Tarrant County and asked if Gay could be the CASA volunteer for the new baby.
Gay said yes.
Yes to a child in need.
What do you say?
Blake’s first confirmed case of abuse was the day he was born when his little body tested positive for drugs. At age 4, he was abused again before being adopted by a relative. Tragically, he continued to be abused and neglected and was eventually placed in foster care at age 15. For 11 years, this child endured the darkest pain, and as a teen, he was isolated and alone. With no clear sources of family support other than his teenage sister Erin, he was expected to age out of foster care unless someone intervened and spoke for him. That’s when he met his CASA volunteer, Steve.
Steve began working tirelessly to find a way out of foster care for Blake. When Blake’s behavior worsened he was sent to live in a Residential Treatment Center, four hours away from Erin. That’s when Blake gave up all hope- “I knew I was probably looking at a bad future.” But behind the scenes, his CASA Steve was Blake’s champion, making sure he wasn’t lost to his family. Steve refused to let another teenager get lost in the system. Blake said he knew Erin, now 21, was his last hope for getting out of foster care. “She was my angel.”
For Erin, her “worst fear was that he would get stuck in foster care.” Once she turned 21, she wanted to become Blake’s permanent home, but she didn’t know how to become an approved placement. This is where Steve stepped in. Steve helped Erin navigate the CPS system to bring Blake home, and his advocacy finally gave Blake hope for a brighter future. Thanks to the commitment of his CASA volunteer, Blake was able to move in with Erin the day after school was out this summer. Your donation gives children like Blake the critical voice they need in foster care!
P.S. Blake is now a happy teenager living with his sister. “Some people think living in the mountains or by the beach is paradise. To me, this is paradise.” – Blake
GREW UP NEGLECTED. TOOK CARE OF HER YOUNGER SIBLINGS.
THEN SEPARATED FROM HER SIBLINGS IN FOSTER CARE
Thanks to her CASA Karman and Caseworkers, Aurora and her siblings were reunited and adopted together!
ENDURED SEVERE PHYSICAL ABUSE AS AN INFANT. MULTIPLE BROKEN BONES, IN A MEDICAL COMA AT THE HOSPITAL
Thanks to his CASA Tricia, Bryan is now treasured by his new family and is progressing physically and developmentally!
Severe medical problems.
Multiple foster homes.
A lifetime of uncertainty.
Two-year-old Mya was born prematurely and spent the first two months of her life in the NICU. She suffered brain damage, severe infections, and the threat of blindness before her first birthday. When she entered foster care at 13-months-old, Mya was unable to walk, speak or eat on her own. Her extensive medical needs required nearly full-time care. In the span of six months, she had been placed in three different foster homes.
That’s where CASA came in. Elizabeth was a court-appointed Advocate whose singular goal was to make a recommendation to the judge as to the best place for Mya to live. Elizabeth worked tirelessly with Mya’s case workers, attorney, medical team, and foster parents to ensure all of her medical needs were met. She was the one consistent adult during that traumatic time. Elizabeth ultimately recommended to the court that Mya be adopted, and was thrilled to learn that Jenny and Matt Jennings would be Mya’s forever family.
Jenny said, “Elizabeth gave me hope for better days to come.” At Mya’s adoption, her new parents officially changed her name to Mya Elizabeth, in honor of her CASA volunteer. Elizabeth now knows, “that Mya changed my life.”
Every donation gives children like Mya the voice of a CASA volunteer while in foster care. During an uncertain time in their lives, you can give them the gift of hope in the form of a consistent, caring adult.
P.S. With regular medical treatment, Mya is thriving. Her parents proudly report she can now walk without assistance, say a few words, and sign to communicate!
In foster care by age four.
Severe physical abuse.
Deep emotional scars.
Heartbroken and afraid.
Little Kai endured years of abuse at the hands of his mother’s boyfriends. He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder before he even started Pre-K. By the time he entered foster care, his exposure to a lifetime of violence made him timid, withdrawn, and fearful. That’s when CASA volunteer Diane stepped in!
Diane served as Kai’s CASA volunteer for the length of his case. She worked tirelessly with his case workers, attorney, therapists, biological family, and foster family. She visited Kai 27 times. During a trial that lasted over a week, Diane was a critical voice for Kai’s best interests and provided key testimony to help the judge make the most informed decision. She was a constant in his life, giving him a voice when he needed one the most.
His case was complex, and Kai was not able to be adopted until all appeals had been exhausted. The Appeals Court ultimately decided to uphold the judge’s ruling—Kai was allowed to be adopted! The court appreciated Diane’s extensive interaction with him and cited her strong credibility as a witness. Her advocacy truly changed the course of his life.
Your donation gives children like Kai the critical voice they need while in foster care!
P.S. Kai is now thriving in a loving home full of siblings and laughter. His PTSD symptoms have improved, he excels in school, and he loves Superheroes, especially Spiderman!