Each year, hundreds of thousands of children in the United States spend time in foster care, often spending formative years uprooted, bouncing from placement to placement, with little to no consistency keeping them anchored. At Voices for Children (VFC), we recognize the crucial need to support these youth on their journey to a safe, permanent home. Our Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers promote the needs of these children in many ways, including advocating for permanency through adoption when adoption is in the child’s best interest.
Of the nearly 700,000 children in foster care in the United States during 2019, about 63,000 were adopted and another 125,000 were waiting to be adopted, according to government statistics from the Children’s Bureau. Although the journey to adoption can be traumatic itself and riddled with obstacles, these children, once adopted, can truly accelerate their healing in safe, stable, and permanent environments.
Permanent placement into a safe, secure, and healthy home is a huge milestone for our children, CASAs, and staff alike. Below, staff members share some of their favorite adoption stories from over the years.
Finding Confidence through Advocacy
Advocacy Supervisor Amanda Reynolds
Julius* was placed in foster care as a young teen after it became clear that his parents were unable to meet his and his siblings’ needs. He began to shut down, receiving poor grades in school and interacting poorly with others. When he was paired with his CASA Melia, he kept his guard up and refused to speak with her. When she took him and his siblings out for a bite to eat, he sat wordlessly at another table and ate alone.
His traumatic upbringing made it difficult to break the ice, but, over time and with dedicated encouragement, CASA Melia eventually coaxed Julius to open up. She discovered that he enjoyed running, so she began registering him for community “fun-runs”, which boosted his confidence and mood.
When she realized he had undiagnosed developmental issues that affected his ability to learn, she advocated for him to receive treatment. With these new challenges illuminated, Julius was enrolled in specialized academic programs that accommodated his needs. His grades improved drastically, and so did his faith in himself. He now talked endlessly with his CASA Melia.
Due to his progress, along with that of his siblings, Julius and his siblings were brought to the attention of a potential adoptive parent. A few years later, Julius and his siblings celebrated their adoption into a loving home, with CASA Melia there to celebrate with them.
Medical Miracles through Consistent Efforts
Sr. Advocacy Supervisor Diana Woldt-Gorsich
CASA Janeen was matched with her case child Duncan* at a difficult stage in his life. At just 5 years old, the young boy had been living in a hospital for the majority of his life due to severe medical ailments. He could not eat or breathe unassisted, and general mobility was out of the question. CASA Janeen stepped right in, visiting Duncan multiple times a month with light-up toys and books to keep him engaged. He was a happy little boy, despite his condition, and would laugh and play with her the best he could.
During a visit, CASA Janeen learned that Duncan was experiencing organ failure and would likely not live much longer. Devastated, she began visiting him almost daily. Janeen read and spoke to him, despite his inability to respond and engage. For a month, he remained nearly vegetative, until suddenly his health began to improve drastically. Only a few months later, he was able to walk, talk, and attend a school program with assistance. He blossomed during this time and became an energetic little boy.
Incredibly, after this long journey, Duncan’s former nurse stepped forward and expressed interest in being his permanent caregiver. She had fallen in love with his bright personality and firm will to keep fighting. Within months, CASA Janeen and others on the case gathered together to celebrate the finalization of Duncan’s miraculous adoption into his former nurse’s home.
Learning Patience and Permanency
Program Coordinator Julie Woodruff
Eleven-year-old Logan* was in a rough spot when Voices for Children paired him with CASA Cheryl. He had been removed from his biological father’s house due to physical abuse and was now living in a group home. Logan was an energetic and bright boy, but expressed his grief and trauma through what some might label as behavioral issues. CASA Cheryl regularly took him for outings; together, they tried new foods, went fishing, played games, and attended the Voices for Children’s annual holiday party. She also kept up with his academics and ensured his progress overall. Despite having to frequently move from one placement to another, Logan remained resilient and continued to improve.
Logan was eventually brought to the attention of an interested foster parent, a single father who could provide a stable home. After much discussion and screening, Logan was placed temporarily with this caregiver. The move, like others, proved difficult for the young boy. He acted out a few times, even damaging the house. His foster parent remained calm and supportive throughout these tantrums, and Logan eventually realized that this was a home unlike his previous ones. He and his caregiver grew close, and CASA Cheryl attended Logan’s heartwarming adoption party a few years later.
Celebrating One Special Day
Advocacy Supervisor II Siana Amos
Siblings Lea and Tom* were removed from an abusive, negligent home and placed in the care of their maternal grandparents. From the start, the family experienced troubles when the siblings’ biological father would visit their home and school in a belligerent manner. A criminal protective order was issued but could not be served as the father had no known address or consistent place of work.
Throughout this chaotic time, the siblings and their grandparents depended on their CASA, Janet, to ease their worries and provide a positive mental space. She advocated for the siblings’ mental and emotional health, development, and education, while also taking them on fun outings to get their minds off the traumatic situation.
Over time, it became obvious the kids were thriving in their grandparents’ care and that the caregivers were eager to welcome their grandchildren into their home permanently. After a lengthy adoption process and many obstacles, Lea and Tom’s special day finally came. CASA Janet, the social worker, the grandparents, and others on the case celebrated with a delicious cake, sweet treats, and presents for the children. The excited new family even took pictures with the judge.
Maintaining Optimism through Chaos
Sr. Advocacy Supervisor Jane Wehrmeister
Going through the dependency system as a teenager is incredibly difficult. After her mother passed away, Margaret*, 14, was placed in her adult sibling’s care but subsequently entered foster care after her sibling was found to be abusing drugs. Margaret couldn’t understand how to support herself through this time of isolation. As her life seemed to spiral out of control, she was provided a CASA by Voices for Children.
CASA Kelly remained a constant in Margaret’s turbulent life for several years. She celebrated milestones with the young woman, including Margaret’s very impressive early graduation from high school. Despite her troubled past, the determined teenager refused to let her time in the foster system define her. She was eager to make a better life for herself.
Mere weeks before Margaret’s 18th birthday, her adoption into a loving family was finalized. Margaret’s caregivers arranged for CASA Kelly to be present at the celebration, and the family gathered together to commemorate a long-awaited and exciting milestone in Margaret’s life.
Act Now – Become a CASA
Many of our CASAs and case children will someday experience the excitement of adoption, but those foster youth who will remain in the foster care system need a support like you. If you’d like to make a difference by advocating for a foster child in need, consider taking steps towards becoming a CASA today!
*For confidentiality reasons, the names of all children mentioned in these stories have been changed.