A happy ending for two foster children and their mother
“She was miserable; it was devastating,” recounts Guardian ad Litem volunteer Yolanda Valencia upon meeting Danny*.
Danny was 10 years old when she entered the foster care system with her 5-year old brother after their mother was convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol in the presence of her two children.
“The young girl acted as the parent to her little brother, so she refused be separated from him—no matter what,” says Valencia. The young boy was battling cerebral palsy and since he required special assistance, he was placed in a medical foster home, where he could receive attention from therapists and nurses. “She demanded that the two of them but it was causing her a lot of stress to [care for her brother].” Unfortunately the separation caused Danny equal stress as she suffered tantrums and emotional outbursts, two of which were so severe she had to be hospitalized. All the while, Valencia increased her visits to the family from the recommended once-monthly visit to thrice-monthly with additional phone calls as needed to both Laura and her children.
“What I did was keep the mother involved as much as possible. I saw that the mom was a good mom. She was hurting not being with her kids and it was affecting her self-esteem,” says Valencia. In turn, she would update the mother often and compel her to visit the children’s schools, taking visits with teachers and therapists. “Her self-esteem really needed boosting so I tried to be that advocate for her children and for her. I wanted her to feel valuable, like she had a purpose.”
Valencia’s strategy worked. Laura completed one year of court-mandated rehabilitation program: attending a series of counseling sessions, receiving regular drug testing and wearing an alcohol monitoring bracelet (SCRAM). Today, she lives with her in-laws, her boyfriend and her two healthy, happy children.
“I was a guardian for the first time [on this case] so I felt such a sense of responsibility. I thought to myself, ‘What if I fail them?’”
Valencia didn’t, nor did the family and friends who supported Laura’s recovery and reunification with her children. “The kids were beside themselves when they learned they could go back to their mom,” remembers Valencia of the joyful moment when the family was reunited. “The kids are ecstatic to be with their mom again.”
* Mother and child’s names were changed to protect their privacy.