Donna & Lori’s Story
Lori* was born addicted to methadone at birth and was immediately placed into foster care. During the first 3 year of her life, she lived in two different placements before she was able to move back home with her rehabilitated mom.
Unfortunately, just a couple of years later, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) began receiving calls about Lori’s safety and her mother’s relapse. Sadly, the allegations proved to be true and Lori was once again removed from her mother’s care. From there, she was placed with a family friend who anticipated that the length of placement would be relatively short. However, after a year of caring for Lori, the family friend realized that this was going to be more of a commitment than she had planned, both in time and in managing Lori’s behavior. She had no choice but to request that DCP&P find Lori a new placement.
It was at this time that Donna was appointed by the Family Court as Lori’s CASA volunteer. Donna made numerous efforts to maintain Lori’s placement – including identifying additional services and supports for the foster mother. At the same time, Donna began looking at alternatives. While it was clear that Lori’s father was not a viable option due to his incarceration, he was able to provide information to DCP&P about relatives who might be interested in making a home for his daughter. Once it became clear that Lori’s placement was officially coming to an end, Donna rolled up her sleeves and spent hours combing through Lori’s files. That’s when she found a possible relative placement, Lori’s cousin, Allison*. Allison indicated that she and her partner were interested in caring for Lori.
After DCP&P cleared the placement, Lori went to live with Allison and her partner, even though she had never previously met them. Donna wanted Lori to feel comfortable during this major transition and visited with her every single week in not only the cousin’s home, but at Lori’s after-school program. Donna did not stop there; she also tutored Lori in math, made sure that her homework was complete, and supported her in all that she did. Then, after a short time, Allison started to doubt she and her partner could handle Lori long term. To help with this, Donna also spent time each week speaking with Allison and her partner, trying to help them cope with Lori’s issues to enable them to keep Lori, permanently. Unfortunately, after just about a month, Lori’s cousin could no longer care for her. Personalities were not a fit –and they were not ready for a child of Lori’s age or a child with Lori’s history. Not surprisingly, based upon all that she had experienced since birth, Lori had serious trust issues and significant difficulties becoming attached to people. Lori would even vocalize her feelings stating, “you’re not going to keep me anyway so why even pretend” and would act out in ways to sabotage her relationships.
During her time in placement, Lori was receiving counseling from a social worker, Ms. H. Donna established a relationship with Ms. H and had many conversations with her regarding Lori’s behaviors. During these conversations, Donna and Ms. H often discussed Lori’s trust issues and her need for permanency. When Lori’s placement with her cousin began to fail, Ms. H expressed to Donna that she would be willing to take Lori in to live with her but didn't know how to go about it. Donna notified DCP&P, and worked to facilitate communication between Ms. H and DCP&P. There were many hurdles, difficult lines of communication, and multiple changes in Division caseworker; however, Donna was diligent in making sure this came to fruition. Donna negotiated visits and placement on a trial basis, stepping up to full-time.
Success! Lori was placed with Ms. H. and eventually was adopted. Due to Donna’s diligence, relationship building skills and dedication, Lori has what every child deserves, a safe, loving and permanent home.