CASA for the Cross Timbers Area reflects on National Adoption Month.


Special to BENEATH THE SURFACE NEWS


November is National Adoption Month and CASA for the Cross Timbers Area is celebrating and supporting the many families who have welcomed a child into their home through adoption —with a special spotlight on adoption by relatives.


“As advocates for the best interest of children in foster care, we at CASA have seen family take many forms. All loving families are beautiful,” said Mindy Wooley, executive director of CASA for the Cross Timbers Area.


When we think about adoption from foster care, many of us think of it in terms of adoption by a non-relative. What we don’t all realize, however, is that adoption can take many forms. It’s also quite common for a child to be adopted by or live with a relative or family friend, Wooley explained.


“Often, when a child cannot safely go back home with their parents, then their grandparents, aunts, uncles and other family members step up to care for them. This is known in the system as ‘kinship care,’” Wooley said. “In some cases, children live with family friends, coaches, teachers or mentors —‘fictive kin.’”


In fact, last year, 2,551 of the 5,270 children adopted from foster care statewide were adopted by family members. Keeping children with people they know is what CASA volunteers and professionals in the system strive for, because it helps keep them connected with their community and loved ones.


Take this story of twin brothers DaShaun and Micah, and their Grandma Mabel.


DaShaun and Micah have moved foster homes four times in the past year, and they need stability. One day, DaShaun and Micah tell their CASA volunteer Daniel about memories of their Grandma Mabel. Daniel shares this with the others on the boys’ case, and they are able to locate and contact her. She is relieved to know the boys are safe and says she would gladly care for them.


DaShaun and Micah move in with Grandma Mabel. They are happy to be back in a familiar home with family and to start the process of healing.


A few months later, the twins are officially adopted by their grandma. After years of moving from placement to placement, Micah and DaShaun are in a safe, caring and permanent home, with someone they know and love—and who unconditionally loves them.


This story, while fictional, is based on real-life situations for children in foster care, their families and their CASA volunteers.


CASA volunteers are everyday citizens from the community who are screened and trained, and appointed by a judge to advocate for a child’s best interest in court. They work collaboratively with the professionals on the child’s case, including the caseworker, attorneys and others. Their top priority is to advocate for the child to reunify with their parents whenever safe and possible. When this is not an option, they advocate for the child to live with and be adopted by other family members or friends, or with a caring adoptive family.


“This month, we’re taking the time to show our appreciation for the diverse families in our community who are nurturing and raising children they’ve adopted from foster care,” Wooley said. “Thank you for giving them a safe, permanent and unconditionally loving home where they can heal and grow!”


For more information on the work of CASA volunteers and to get involved, visit https://casacta.org/volunteer/.


The next training/information session is from 4-7 p.m. on Jan. 6 at the CASA office at 1385 N. Graham Street in Stephenville.