For Jacob (10), Logan (9), and Christopher (8) (names changed), life was overshadowed by their mother’s drug addiction. While their mother was passed out on drugs for days at a time, Jacob would scrounge for money in his mother’s purse to buy corndogs for his brothers. They would dig through piles of dirty clothes to get dressed for school.
The boys bounced in and out of foster care as their mother would repeatedly get clean to regain custody, just to relapse once again. Their life was a revolving door of schools, homes, and adults. The boys were unruly, did poorly in school, and had no friends. At school, one of the boys was reported for kicking, spitting on and cussing at other kids.
When placed in different foster homes, the boys worried about each other: they were the only constant in each other’s lives. Jacob, as the oldest, felt responsible for his two brothers, and worried his brothers didn’t have food, or a bed, or clothing.
When Kelsey was assigned to the boys as their Court Appointed Special Advocate, she recognized in her first meetings with them how desperate the boys were for someone who cared about them. After a half hour of listening to them, the boys wanted to make sure she would be back. They were used to people talking to them, and relished Kelsey talking with them.
In her regular visits with the boys, Kelsey would help the boys work through what she refers to as their “quirks.” Christopher had tantrums, and she started to coach him on what he could do when he became upset. After a while, he would surprise himself, exclaiming, “Hey! I didn’t throw anything!”
Kelsey knew Logan was picked on at school. Working with him on how to start and maintain friendships, she helped him develop important skills that impacted his self-esteem. She taught him to walk away instead of fighting when children taunted him, and that he could start fresh the next day.
For Jacob, who was used to acting as the parent for his brothers, it was all about helping him learn to just be a kid.
Kelsey knew that in order to thrive, the boys would need to find a permanent home that was willing to take all three boys. However, one caseworker commented that just spending an hour with the boys was exhausting and too much for one person to handle.
The boys’ great-grandparents Wayne and Janice agreed to take all three boys in foster care. The boys began to act out, expecting they would be moved again just as they had before. Wayne and Janice worried that the boys’ needs and abundant energy would be more than they could manage at their age.
The boys wanted to stay with Wayne and Janice, and Kelsey helped them see that they would need to pitch in, taking on responsibilities and chores. The boys were willing and enthusiastic. Living together, with the love and attention of their great-grandparents, their behavior improved at home and at school.
Wayne and Janice thought for months about adopting Jacob, Logan and Christopher, but they were unsure. Wary at first of the physical toll the boys would take on them, they started to have more energy – they boys made them feel younger. Then, Kelsey recalls a pivotal day in court. The Judge asked if there was anything they wanted to say, and Wayne emotionally exclaimed, “We want them!”
The boys have made incredible progress in their loving, stable, adoptive home. Wayne and Janice say that every day is better than the last. All three boys are getting good grades, have friends, and have stopped acting out at home or school. They get up each morning with their great-grandparents, put on clean clothes, get snacks and school supplies in their backpacks, and are excited to go to school. When they come home, they gladly help out with chores, eat dinner together and talk as a family. Jacob, Logan and Christopher are no longer kids who are unsure of their footing in life and of where they will find their next meal. The boys are able to enjoy just being kids. They are more calm and confident knowing that they have a “forever home” where they will always be cared for.
Now that Kelsey is transitioning out of their lives after two years, Wayne asked the boys what their CASA volunteer meant to them. They described Kelsey as being their only connection with the outside world before Wayne and Janice, the only person who really cared about them.