Gabriel was taken from his parents shortly after he was born. They had been charged with a felony and there were concerns about his safety.
He moved to a relative’s home, but the relative was worried about his parents and Gabriel had to move. Then he moved into a foster home with an older woman. She had a stroke and Gabriel had to move again.
His ProKids CASA Volunteer, Judith, met him at his third home. He was one of several children – some with special needs. Judith was concerned that he was not learning to bond with his caregivers.
He had supervised visits with his parents but his father stopped showing up. His mother made it clear that she cared deeply for him and she told Judith about her concerns with the foster home he was living in. Judith also noticed that Gabriel, despite the week between each of his visits with his mom, was attached to her. He sought her for comfort and engaged her with his big smile.
Judith made connections with community services that could help Gabriel continue to achieve his developmental milestones – like rolling over and reaching for toys. She also worked with her ProKids Advocacy Team to find another home for Gabriel – even though it meant another move. She also talked with his mother, learning about how she navigated for visits using six different buses and how she wasn’t with Gabriel’s father anymore.
The parents’ criminal case was dragging on. It didn’t look like he could be reunited with his mother very soon, even though she was doing everything that the child protection system had asked of her.
Gabriel went to live with another family. The foster mom was able to focus on Gabriel and he began to catch up developmentally.
Finally, his mother appeared in court on her criminal charge. While Gabriel’s father went to prison for several years, his mother was able to seek custody of Gabriel.
Gabriel went home to his mother. Judith continued to visit because there were protective orders in place to make sure he was safe. Judith noticed that his mom had gathered hand-me-down clothes from the neighbors and prepared her home for a young, inquisitive child. Judith and Gabriel’s mom talked about neighborhood schools. Judith and the rest of the team agreed that being with his mom was in Gabriel’s best interest.
The last time Judith visited the little family, Gabriel was curled up on the sofa with his mom, reading one of the books she had gotten from the library.
After several years – and several homes – Gabriel was really home.
We share stories of our children so that our community can understand why ProKids depends on a mobilized community. We change the names of the children, and sometimes of the adults involved, and use stock photos out of respect for their dignity and privacy. The stories themselves, however, are true.