Author: Norah Okilee
Christy, the eldest of three siblings, has a twin sister named Jenna and a younger brother named Michael. When they were young, they were placed under the care of their paternal grandmother due to their mother’s substance dependency. However, when Christy was 13, their grandmother passed away, leaving no plan for their care. Consequently, they were placed back into foster care and eventually aged out.
Generational trauma had a lasting impact, leading Jenna down the path of substance dependency, just like their mother. Jenna was now a mother herself to a son named Darius. Christy also had a daughter, Olivia. Christy frequently visited Jenna and Darius, and during one such visit, Darius shared disturbing experiences from his home under his mother’s care. Deeply concerned, Christy took action and contacted the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline. Darius was taken to the hospital for evaluation and later placed in foster care. Determined to break the cycles of substance dependency and growing up in the child welfare system, Christy began her journey toward becoming Darius’s caretaker.
As Christy was on the verge of becoming Darius’s relative care provider last April, a devastating house fire left them both homeless, resulting in Darius being removed from her care and placed with a foster family. Christy feared the time period without Darius.
During her journey to become a kinship provider, Christy formed strong connections with Edna and the Families United (relative support) team at the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition. They reassured her that she was the best person to take care of Darius. Christy relied on this support, meeting with Edna frequently to plan her next steps. In the meantime, she and Olivia, who was two years old at the time, moved into her grandmother’s home, which was far from Darius. To visit him on weekends, they often stayed in hotels. During a check-in with the Families United team, Christy pleaded with Edna, expressing her willingness to relocate if necessary to ensure Darius’s well-being.
Edna noted, “Christy was ready to go anywhere for housing stability for her and Darius.” On September 5th, 2023, Darius was reunited with Christy after three months apart. Edna praised Christy’s resilience and commitment to providing for Darius’s needs.
Today, Christy, Darius, and Olivia reside in Jefferson City. “Olivia sees Darius as her brother, and Christy has raised him as her son, so both children in the home share a strong bond,” Edna remarked. A family court hearing is scheduled for September 15th to grant Christy legal custody of Darius, ensuring he remains with his family and cannot be removed again.
Program Spotlight: Families United
Families United is a relative support program that assists relatives and kinship caregivers in obtaining their foster care licenses. We understand the unique challenges prospective caregivers face, such as tight deadlines, which can make navigating the process alone difficult.
Kinship placements and adoptions often happen abruptly, placing a sudden responsibility on the caregiver. We recognize the significance of providing emotional support throughout the entire journey. Our dedicated team of specialists stands by families every step of the way, offering comprehensive advocacy, material resources, assistance with application completion, and crisis support. Our role encompasses advocacy, education, empathy, and healing, connecting families with the necessary community resources to navigate the challenges they encounter.