After waiting three years for this day to arrive, brothers Toby and Jake, 13 and 11, will be adopted this month by their loving grandmother. The boys grew up living with their mother, grandmother, and uncles. However, their mother had a long history of drug abuse, and something very traumatic happened while the boys and their family members were asleep one night. Their mother was murdered in their home. This is when Toby and Jake were taken into the custody of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, but they were fortunate to continue living with their grandmother and uncles.
“I think having their family close by helped a lot in grieving process,” said the boys’ CASA volunteer, Jim, who was assigned to their case shortly after their mother’s death. “They are very laid back. At least they had a little support group around them. They never indicated to me that they were ever scared.”
Soon after, their grandmother moved the family to a new home in a safer neighborhood. Here, the boys made new friends and spent their summer days swimming.
“I think they look at her like their mother,” Jim said of the boys’ grandmother. “She does everything for them and provides a positive living environment. She always seems invested in their schoolwork and how they’re doing.”
Jim observed how well the boys were doing in their grandmother’s care, and he advocated that she adopt them.
He said the boys are excited to finally get adopted. “They are looking forward to having the case come to an end,” he said, mentioning that some of their case workers have changed over the years. Additionally, the boys’ father and mother’s ex boyfriend also prolonged the adoption process.
“[Court] was trying to give the boys’ father and the mother’s ex boyfriend many opportunities to become guardians, but they were not following through; they were either disinterested or in jail,” Jim said.
This upset the boys’ grandmother because she was the one constant in their lives, and she took care of them every day. She has spent the past year waiting for the adoption to be finalized.
“For them, adoption is long overdue,” Jim said. “I’m happy for them. Compared to a lot of things I hear about foster children who moved around a lot, I think the kids are very lucky. It’s very unfortunate they lost their mother, but living with their grandmother helped them relax. They weren’t scared that they were going to get removed from the grandmother’s home and placed somewhere else.”
During Jim’s most recent visit, the grandmother could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
She was holding an envelope in her hand and said to Jim, “I believe this is the last thing I have to fill out and hand in. After this, everything comes to a close.”
Toby and Jake are two out of 33 children from Atlantic and Cape May Counties who were adopted this month.
Jim is one of over 200 CASA Volunteers in Atlantic and Cape May Counties fighting for the rights of children living in foster care. CASA is central to fulfilling society’s most fundamental obligation by making sure a qualified, compassionate adult will fight for and protect a child’s right to be safe, to be treated with dignity and respect and to learn and grow in the safe embrace of a loving family. Join the Movement by calling CASA today at (609) 601-7800.