During the pandemic our Extreme Recruitment® program has finalized 10 adoptions/guardianships! One of the biggest challenges faced by foster care professionals has been delayed adoption timeframes due to cancelled and postponed court hearings and generally slower communication. Adoption/guardianship day is the most important date for many of our children who have lingered in foster care for years and dream of being part of a forever family.
Sixteen year old Mateo, twelve year old Zoe, and five year old Lena came into care in 2015 when Lena was born exposed to heroin in utero. Years later, the siblings were still in foster care with no hope of returning home to their mother. What they needed was some creative thinking, a fierce advocate, and a little luck.
Angela, an Extreme Recruiter®, opened the case in 2018 to help find the siblings a forever family. Angela and her team were able to uncover several relatives that had lost touch with the children; some were even interested in providing placement. As Angela reconnected relatives with the children, she kept hearing the same thing; they wanted to be a part of the children’s lives but they wouldn’t be able to handle all three children on their own.
Angela made contact with an aunt, Sofia, who had placement of a fourth sibling, nineteen year old Camila. Sofia was interested in providing placement for the children, but as was the case with other relatives, she wasn’t sure she could do it alone. She contacted her sister and best friend, Mariana, who was elated at the thought of providing a permanent home for these children, but also worried she would need help. They wanted to work together to give their nephew and nieces a place to call home.
The team was reluctant to split the siblings between the aunts, but Angela knew this was the best way for the children to grow up with family and still have each other in their lives. Angela pushed the team tirelessly to move forward with Sofia and Mariana as adoptive parents for the children. In December 2018, Zoe and Lena moved in with Mariana while Mateo moved in with Sofia and Camila. As the aunts were always together, so were the kids.
The long awaited guardianship hearing was set for May 2020 but, due to COVID19, was postponed until July. To three kids who have spent five uncertain years- including Lena’s entire life – in the foster care system, a couple of months felt like a lifetime.
On July 9, 2020, Mateo, Lena, and Zoe finally found their forever family. The court even decided to let them all hold their hearing together and in-person as long as they practiced safe social distancing!