Here are just a few of our MANY successes!
30 Days to Family® Succeeds for a Sibling Group of 10! The goal of the Coalition’s 30 Days to Family® program is to find children safe relative or kinship placements within 30 days of entering foster care. Thanks to 30 Days to Family and a wonderful team of professionals and family members, these ten children found family in just 23 days! A sibling group of ten, ages 1 month, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 13, came into protective custody due to lack of supervision, which often left them homeless. Their mother couldn’t care for them and often left them alone for long periods of time, forcing the older children to watch over their younger siblings. Most nights, they went to bed not knowing when, or if, their mother would return. Click here to read this story.
Paying It Forward – This is story from KSDK NewsChannel 5 will bring a smile to your face and heart. Eleven-year-old Je’la didn’t want a birthday party this year. She didn’t want gifts either. Why? “I want to take that money and donate it to a child who doesn’t have anything,” she said. Just spend a few minutes with this young lady and you’ll know she is something special. She decided to “adopt” a birthday buddy through the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition. Since foster parents are not given additional funds for birthdays or holidays, the Coalition started the program where the public can select a child and buy them gifts. Je’la selected 10-years-old Delilah. She bought her almost everything on her list. “I could have had a party but I went shopping at Walmart and got her some presents. ” Thank you Je’la for giving Delilah an awesome birthday! Click here to watch this story now.
Sara and Kevin Never Give Up Hope
Siblings Sara and Kevin grew up in foster care, but they never gave up hope that they would be adopted. They wanted to find a family more than anything. Sara became even more optimistic when she met their Extreme Recruiter. The recruiter called courthouses, mortuaries, and newspapers in Louisiana and Mississippi to build their family tree and she worked tirelessly until she found over 100 of their relatives. “All I wanted was to find a family, someone who cares and now I have so much more!” said Sara. Sara and Kevin’s commitment to each other and their future-and Extreme Recruitment’s commitment to them-paid off. “You’re never too old to be adopted. Look at me!” said Sara.
Zachary’s Maternal Aunt Steps Up with Extreme Recruitment
When thirteen-year-old Zachary was referred to Extreme Recruitment, the rights of his biological parents had been terminated, but no adoptive family had been found. Our Extreme Recruiter Amanda received very little information regarding Zachary’s family and kin, only two maternal relatives and no paternal relatives were known. But Amanda was undeterred. After talking with Zachary, searching social media, and making many phone calls, Amanda was able to identify and locate more than 60 of Zachary’s relatives in just three weeks. Many of Zachary’s family members did not know he was in care and were eager to assist in the finding of his forever home. Zachary’s maternal aunt Michelle, who lives in Atlanta, was particularly concerned about him, despite not having seen him in years. Amanda spoke with Michelle almost daily. The more she learned about Zachary’s life, the more adamant she became about Zachary coming to live with her. Arranging for a child to move between states is challenging, but Amanda and Michelle stayed the course. Amanda made sure all the required paperwork was completed and promptly reviewed. Michelle took all the required parenting courses and even created a baseball themed room for Zachary, because that is his favorite sport. While waiting for the adoption to be finalized, Amanda arranged for Zachary to visit Michelle frequently. Due to the care and determination of the Extreme Recruitment team, Zachary was able permanently move in with Amanda just months after the Coalition received his case. Now, Zachary and Amanda cannot imagine their lives without each other.
Eleven-Year-Old Madison Gets Reunited with Paternal Relatives
Eleven-year-old Madison threatened to kill herself at school. When it came to light that her mother had been physically and verbally abusive, Madison was brought into foster care and our 30 Days to Family team was called. Madison’s file contained the name of five relatives. Within 19 short days, our specialist identified 84 more, including Madison’s out-of-state father who had been trying to find her for years. Madison immediately said she wanted to live with him. Because he lives out of state, the process to move her there is cumbersome, and it became clear that Madison would not be able to move immediately. A lot of Madison’s paternal family does live in St. Louis, though, and they were eager to get to know her. Madison’s paternal grandmother, in particular, was over the moon. She readily volunteered to have Madison live with her and, so Madison could keep going to the same school, agreed to drop her off and pick her up every day. Madison’s grandmother also enrolled in the Coalition’s trauma training course so she could learn how to effectively talk with Madison about her past experiences. Madison is now surrounded by family who love her while she waits until the end of the school year to move in with her father.
30 Days to Family Finds 272 Relatives
Four-year-old Donovan was taken into care when his mother was arrested and unable to provide care for him. When 30 Days to Family™ met him, there were only 5 known relatives. Our team interviewed those 5 family members, searched public records, and began knocking on doors to find 272 more of Donovan’s relatives and kin. The day before the 30 day court hearing, the Coalition’s investigator even tracked down Donovan’s long-lost paternal grandmother, who had recently relocated from Southwest Missouri back to the St. Louis area. After making contact with her, she was heartbroken, informing 30 Days to Family™ that she never knew she had another grandchild. “Of course I want my grandbaby! I will love him and take care of him just like if I would’ve known of him the day he was born!”
Educational Advocacy Changed Jon’s School
Life Jon, age 10, worked with our Educational Specialist, Trish. Recently, Jon’s adoptive mom updated Trish on his progress since starting a new school. “Overall, Jon is happier and more relaxed than he has ever been. He is more engaged in class and refuses to take breaks during the day, as he doesn’t want to leave the classroom! He has been very respectful and polite, and seems to be stepping into a new comfort zone.” The best news came when we heard Jon had done something no one thought he would ever bring himself to do, tell class that he was adopted! To his surprise, there was no teasing, no snickers or laughs, and no one made him feel different. Instead, something amazing and unexpected happened; a classmate blurted out, “You got picked? That’s awesome! You got picked by your parents!” Jon’s teacher said he was beaming with joy.
Since Trish and Jon’s adoptive mom have joined forces, Jon is more relaxed, wakes up early for school, and is motivated to start his day. He interacts with classmates and makes new friends all the time. Jon also completes homework without arguing and is truly proud of his hard work. Recently, Jon was put in charge of the class pets, hermit crabs. Jon did a fantastic job caring for them.
Jon’s adoptive mom said, “Life is so much better for the both of us. Isn’t this amazing? Changing (school) environment has made all the difference in the world.”
Grandparents With Hearts Big Enough For Two! (7.16.13)
At 10 months old Precious was placed into foster care after being released from the hospital. “We wanted to find a family member who would take care of this little girl like she deserves,’’ Kelly Sullivan, 30 Days to Family® Specialist said. “No child should be physically abused by their father.”
To locate relatives, many who did not even know Precious existed, the 30 Days to Family® team began searching. They reached out through social media, combed internet databases, and even read through piles of census records at the public library. With each relative found, they added the information to Precious’s family tree. Within a week they had found 67 relatives, spoken with many on the telephone, and knocked on several doors to interview each one personally.
“We located a half-sister that was living with her maternal grandparents,” Kelly said. And although Precious was not related to them, she was related to their 4 year old granddaughter. “What was so astounding,” Kelly explained, “was the way the grandparents just opened their home to this little girl. They wanted the two girls to be together and didn’t hesitate for a minute. Because of these grandparents Precious has a big sister to play with and a safe place where no one will hurt her.”
Just One Special Person (5.28.13)
Benjamin was drug exposed when he was born and was placed in foster care. When the 30 Days to Family® team received the referral they began immediately contacting relatives. Through extensive searching – making phone calls, knocking on doors, internet searches, they found 126 relatives. One special relative, Benjamin’s maternal aunt, was determined to take care of him. Lea had raised her own children and firmly believed Benjamin would thrive in her care. “We have had a lot of loss in our family,” she said, “I don’t want this little boy to be added to it.”
Lea began the process of making her home ready and lining up childcare. Within thirty days she brought Benjamin home. His grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins are now able to see him at family functions. “I’m so glad I can watch over him,” Lea said. “Our family is just like everyone else’s. We have had our issues. Still, Benjamin knows his relatives. He knows that we care.”
A Brighter Future Together (1.31.13)
Raising children isn’t easy and there is no one set path. The Manning family called the Crisis Intervention Team because they felt like they had reached a brick wall with their son, Blake. “Blake was becoming increasing aggressive, Mrs. Manning explained. “If I said go right he went left. Forward was backward and up was down. His dad wasn’t having any better luck. Blake was deliberately being disobedient; he refused to follow my directions and would just sit down on the floor and refuse to move. He just didn’t care about anything anymore.”
The Director of Crisis Intervention suggested an approach called tag team parenting. One at a time, the family dealt with the individual problems at hand. Eventually, two goals were identified. Goal #1 encouraged Blake to self-regulate his emotions. Goal #2 enabled him to express his emotions.
The Crisis Intervention team continued to work with the Mannings to help them utilize their own “emotion language.” The Crisis Intervention Specialist helped the Mannings through many exercises to improve communication skills. They told the family to imagine a traffic light. The different colors were a barometer of feelings. Red, yellow, and green soon became code words for each person’s mood depending on the circumstances. One day, Mr. Manning and Blake were driving when another driver cut them off. Blake turned to his father and said, “Dad, I think maybe you are a red right now.” Mr. Manning knew then that Blake had successfully internalized a communication tool!
Within just a few weeks everyone noticed the incredible progress. Mom and Dad felt like they were on the same page with their parenting techniques. Blake was communicating his emotions more appropriately. Together, less stress meant more green smiles and a brighter future.
Brothers and Sisters Together Forever!
Imagine being separated from your siblings and only seeing them once a month for an hour visit. This was the case for five siblings whose mother had severe substance abuse problems and was not able to care for her children. There were four different fathers, all unable to parent.
There had to be a way to bring these brothers and sisters together forever! The Extreme Recruitment® team got busy. The team investigator knocked on doors. The Extreme Recruiter contacted case managers. Phone call after phone call was made while team members combed the internet looking for relatives. To help look for a forever family, KSDK NewsChannel 5 featured the siblings on “A Place to Call Home.” Finally, after starting with only five known relatives, the children’s family tree grew to include 105 family members!
A great aunt hosted a family meeting to bring relatives together to find a solution. Extended cousins, nieces, and nephews came forward. Two second cousins said that they wanted to adopt the children! One adopted the oldest two, ages 13 and 11. The other cousin began pre-adoptive visits for the youngest three, ages 5, 9, and 10.
These kids are excited to start the next chapter of their lives with loving family and many supportive family connections. Thanks to the Coalition’s groundbreaking adoption programs, the children are now surrounded by family who have made a permanent commitment to their future and a permanent promise of love.
Becoming a Family All Over Again
Mr. and Mrs. Blain loved their two grandsons very much but were at their wits end as to how to cope with their uncontrollable behavior. Rashan, 12, had already been in trouble with the law and his younger brother, Radd, 10, was just released from a psychiatric treatment at a nearby hospital. Struggling with financial pressures, poor coping skills, and little outside help, the elderly couple had numerous police visits to their house. The grandsons even tried to set the family home on fire.
Rashan and Radd expressed verbal threats against their grandparents, used inappropriate language, and threatened to do physical harm to anyone that disagreed with them. The situation was escalating out of control. Mr. and Mrs. Blain were certain the only answer to their problems was for the boys to be placed outside the family home; until they called the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition.
“This was one of the most challenging yet rewarding cases I have ever worked with,” our Crisis Intervention Specialist explained. Since working with the Specialist, the Blain family is better able to communicate their thoughts and feelings with non-threatening language. Rashan said he felt like his family was really listening. By improving her communication and parenting skills, Mrs. Blain was able to learn and practice “not taking the bait” from her grandsons, resulting in a reduction in family conflicts and control battles.
The Specialist was also able to partner with the family to develop their own team of experts to support the family long term. Juvenile officers, social workers, mental health counselors, a psychiatrist, a parent aide, and an educational advocate are now working with the family to address issues like racial prejudice, parental abandonment, aggression, low self esteem, academics, and classroom behavior.
Together the family began participating in free events like library visits and Friday night card games. It wasn’t easy, but the home has become more peaceful. “Now”, the Specialist says with a big smile, “It’s like they have become a family all over again. Their bonds are stronger than they ever were.”
What Your Age Is, You Still Want a Family
Julius was beaming ear to ear and looked like the weight of the world had been lifted as he reached down to take his 1-year-old son’s hand. He remembered holding his own father’s hand but it had been many years ago. Recently forced to move out of his mother’s house after several violent outbursts, Julius moved with his young son and girlfriend into a friend’s home.
The move did not help his emotional outlook and soon his depression deepened. Julius attempted suicide. During his recovery stay, the hospital contacted social services and because he was only 17 he entered foster care. “We were determined to find this young man a home with relatives,” said Cisely Beard, 30 Days to Family® Specialist.
Julius could not be safely placed with his mother or father. Soon, however, 30 Days to Family® found a maternal second cousin and Julius moved in. “We located 158 relatives and it turned out that this cousin was very supportive of Julius and his challenges,” Beard explained. “He now has a strong advocate on his behalf.”
Julius is enrolled in a GED program and expects to graduate soon. He and the mother of his son are working to become better parents. Now that Julius has a stable home of his own, he looks forward to the future. “Sometimes all it takes is thinking outside the box,” Beard said. “We don’t give up until we have exhausted all possibilities. No matter what your age, you still want a family.”