It was just before Christmas in 2015 when 11-year-old Keegan watched his father pistol whip his mother while she was holding the family’s one-year-old in her arms. At this moment, the family violence and substance abuse which had engulfed his young life for so long came to a head. Keegan and his baby brother, Kyler, were removed from their parents’ custody and placed in the child welfare system.
With his life already in turmoil, Keegan suffered another blow when the foster family kept his baby brother but decided not to continue fostering the pre-teen.
No other foster family was willing to take a chance on an 11-year-old boy, and so Keegan moved into the Denver Children’s Home even though he did not exhibit behavioral issues. After nine months there, separated from his brother, CASA was finally put on the case in the fall of 2016.
Crystal was the advocate, and upon meeting Keegan became determined to get him into a family, preferably with his little brother. Despite setbacks including a family search that only yielded family members with criminal records, Crystal was persistent.
“I knew it is usually better for siblings to grow up together, but then I realized nobody on the professional team had actually seen the two children interact,” she recalled. “I decided to set up a visit where I could observe the pair together and I have never in my life seen two children more bonded to one another.”
The guardian ad litem agreed with Crystal that the boys should be placed together, but they were running out of time as Kyler’s foster family expressed interest in adopting only him. It was also becoming apparent that the biological parents wouldn’t come back into the picture any time soon as they had both been sentenced to nearly a decade in prison.
When a new foster family showed interest in getting to know Keegan, they indicated that they’d also be open to providing a home for Kyler.
“During a visit, I told Keegan I was going to see the judge and I asked him if there was anything he wanted me to say,” Crystal said. “He told me ‘I don’t care where I live as long as it’s with my brother.’ So that is what I told the judge.”
Crystal and the guardian ad litem then recommended to the court together that the boys be placed in the same home. The reunification happened on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas morning of 2016 the boys woke up in the same home. The following summer, the boys were adopted into their safe and permanent home, together.