Breaking Bread

An ECH Client Story
December Edition

The following story was written by one of our FCCM supervisors:

Today I attended an adoption hearing for Johnathon D. While every adoption we have is a success story this one was a special case for us. Johnathon was adopted by his Great Grandmother, Janice. Throughout this case we faced numerous obstacles. On different occasions, Janice was discriminated against and judged based on her appearance, her age, where she lives and because there is a significant family history of mental illness. We observed that she was not treated as an important, and equal, member of the team.

Amy was able to locate Janice through her Family Finding skills and developed a close relationship with her, that supported her through the Relative Foster Home licensing process (which was being handled by an outside agency at that time). The licensing worker was critical and unfair in her assessments of Janice. Making judgements based on her personal feelings and not facts that supported those concerns. As a team, we addressed these and championed for Janice to be licensed. Johnathon was placed with her and has thrived in her home. I know that Janice looked to Amy as a support throughout this process.

As the case continued, we moved toward Adoption/Termination of Parental Rights. During the Termination of Parental Rights trial, Susan Bechtle (case manager) did an amazing job with her testimony on the case. The court decided to place Janice on the stand to testify. The attorney did not prepare Janice for testimony and as a result she became very flustered and confused as they asked her specific dates of events that had occurred over the past several years of the case. We have never had this experience before, as relatives are never questioned with this rigor. Susan supported Janice through the process, even when the Judge came into the waiting area to disparage Janice and her ineptitude and was questioning of Susan in a very disrespectful manner.

It would have been easy to give up at this point; we had the team and court against us and it seemed like every time we overcame a barrier another was presented. Susan and Amy fought hard for Janice, never wavering on what they thought was best for Johnathan. At times I know they felt defeated (I know I did) but they continued to fight and in the end they won. I am proud of Amy and Susan for their hard work on this case but also for being the type of people who will fight for what’s right. Today was a good reminder of why we do what we do.


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