Several years ago, a very complicated child abuse case opened on two young sisters, Ellee age 3, and Chloe, 6 months. These girls were traumatized by a neglectful, drug-addicted mother, and then became embroiled in a long and difficult court process while they were in foster care.
Court Appointed Special Advocate Caitlyn Beans stepped in to advocate for the girls’ best interest and to see that they got into a safe, permanent home as soon as possible.
Sadly, it became clear to Caitlyn that there was never going to be an opportunity to return Chloe and Ellee to their parents. It was not safe. Parental rights were terminated by the court and adoption became the next best option. Caitlyn worked toward a promising placement with a foster-adopt couple who said they would be there for these little girls, no matter what…but they unexpectedly changed their minds and at the last minute backed out. The girls were moved to respite care and Caitlyn fought to prevent them from being separated. Struggles and disappointments came one after another.
Caitlyn was disheartened many times during the course of the case. At the lowest points, she thought about walking away. But, with the support of her CASA supervisor Janet Stoddard, she came back stronger than ever, determined to keep fighting for these little girls. Caitlyn sought coaching from CASA’s Life Long Links team and began looking for extended family across the country. Caitlyn searched until she found a third cousin, Kristine and her husband Michael in Arizona. The couple quickly committed to take the girls in and began the complicated process of applying for interstate foster placement. The day after the court approved the foster placement, Caitlyn drove the girls to New Mexico to meet Michael and Kristine at the halfway point. From there, the girls bravely headed on to Arizona to live with Michael and Kristeen.
Caitlyn would regularly call and Skype with the girls. She even flew to Arizona twice (at her own expense) to provide support for the family and maintain her relationship with the girls. Caitlyn saw Ellee and Chloe begin to improve and she was confident that Kristine and Michael were great for the girls. Ellee, who had earlier been diagnosed with attachment disorder, was beginning to bond with the couple; she was finally attaching to a positive male father figure. Caitlyn pushed for more support services at hearings that ultimately generated progress in helping this family feel ready to commit to Chloe and Ellee…forever.
The photo above shows Caitlyn with the girls on adoption day, July 28. Caitlyn epitomizes what being a CASA is all about… sticking with these kids no matter what to make sure they have the opportunity to thrive in the safe embrace of a loving family.
If you’d like to join Caitlyn and become a CASA, please come to our Volunteer Information Hour on May 7 from 5:30-6:30 at the CASA office. More information is here.
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