Stories of Hope

25 Years of Changing Lives ~ 1991-2016

 

Jamie's Story

                Jamie’s mother Regina escaped an abusive home when she was fourteen and had been homeless, suffering from mental illness and addiction for years when she became a mother. Regina didn’t know how to provide a home for her two young daughters and raised them on the road with her. “My home, from my youngest years, is remembered as the dirty walls of the Serenity Inn and the black curtains of a lonely trucker’s cab,” Jamie recalled.

First Home

                Despite the squalor, Jamie says life on the road was just… life, until her mother secured Section 8 housing in Eureka when Jamie was six years old. “I have a few terrible memories of that place,” Jamie said. “But I still preserve it in my mind as my life’s first-ever safe haven. For the first time, we were settled somewhere.”

                After securing housing, Jamie attended school for the first time and came to realize how different her life still was. Jamie attended class regularly but the teacher separated her from the other students because she had head lice. “It was so bad, the tiny bugs sometimes fell on the books I read.” Jamie’s clothes were ragged and she sometimes came without shoes. Often after school Jamie stayed late, waiting for a mother who never came. “Some days I would see her walk by,” Jamie said. “Believing she was coming to get me - only to see her pass seeming as though she had forgotten something.

Intervention

                Within months of Jamie’s enrollment the teacher called law enforcement and Jamie was taken into custody and placed in a shelter. Her first night there shelter staff asked her to share three wishes, and Jamie replied … “for my mom to get better; to meet my dad; and to never, ever have head lice again!” Shelter staff then spent the whole night cleaning her hair and by morning, the lice were gone.

               Soon after this Jamie’s second wish came true: she met her father, Robert Roy Carroll III. Although Carroll was disabled, he was determined to gain custody of his daughter. Jamie was placed in a foster home until her father could meet the social worker’s requirements, which included attending parenting classes and more.

It was during this time that Jamie met her CASA, Marge. “My CASA came out of nowhere... She gave me my first Christmas, my first Barbie. I couldn’t wait for our visits. I loved her so much because she gave me my first experiences of unconditional love. This wonderful woman stepped into my life and she changed it forever.”

                Because Marge won Jamie’s trust, six year old Jamie felt safe enough to reveal to Marge that she was being abused in her foster home. Both her foster mother and her social worker had dismissed her claims but Jamie’s CASA believed her. Marge advocated for a different placement and finally succeeded in getting Jamie removed.

Second Foster Home

                Jamie’s second placement was “… a warm, caring, loving and inviting environment. I loved having siblings…. family time on Sunday. It was everything everyone else had and I had always wanted,“ Jamie said. During this time, she also continued visits with Marge.

                Over the next year or so, Jamie’s father worked hard to get custody of his daughter. He also sought advice from Jamie’s CASA and when she felt he was ready, Marge advocated to have Jamie placed with her dad. Eight days before Jamie’s eighth birthday, the court awarded custody to her father. Marge and Jamie’s foster family were there on the happiest day of her life. “They were a coalition,” Jamie said. “Marge, my foster family and my dad and they raised me pretty good.”

                While Jamie and her dad established their relationship Marge monitored the new household but eventually she felt that the father and daughter were ready for her to move on. “But Marge would still check in,” Jamie said. “She wasn’t my CASA any more but she was very special to me. I finally had a normal, stable life, surrounded by people who loved and cared about me.

Father

Jamie thrived under the care of her father. She graduated from middle school with straight A’s and received a full scholarship to St. Bernard’s Catholic School. Tragically, however, Jamie’s father died when she was fourteen. Following his death, Jamie lived with her sister for a time before returning to her second foster home. Shortly after, Jamie’s foster father was convicted of molesting children in his care, leaving chaos in his wake. Jamie was contemplating the uncertainty of her future when she whimsically, maybe desperately, she admits, applied and was accepted for the Rotary Youth Exchange to Brazil. After an intense argument with her foster mother escalated and the police were called, Jamie left. She spent time in a transitional living program and then a year in Brazil before returning to attend College of the Redwoods.

                In 2012, a CASA commercial prompted Jamie to get involved as the first CASA child to return as a volunteer, raising money for an annual fundraiser and sharing her story. Jamie hopes that her story will educate the public about the powerful role a CASA can play in the life of a foster child. Today, Jamie plans to work in advocacy and find actionable solutions to social challenges.

                “But for now I am honored to be working and slowly discovering who I am, who I want to become, and how I can change the world with this flowering self-advocacy that all began with a seed of unconditional love from my cherished CASA. Someday, when the time is right, I will take the CASA training and open my heart to a child in need, just as Marge did for me. Rest In Peace, Marge. I couldn’t ever thank you enough.”

 

 

Christopher & Scott's Story

                The two sit close and watch each other intensely as they communicate, Scott often repeating things that others say—and that repetition is important, because Christopher has autism. Scott Robbins says he never had the patience to be a parent but his interaction with Christopher, his CASA kid, makes this hard to believe.

                Christopher has not had an easy life. His mother was institutionalized when he was young and a friend of his mother’s became his “dad.” But multiple reports of suspected abuse indicate that Christopher’s life did not get easier. And then, when Christopher was 16, his “dad” died in their home; Christopher was still in the house when authorities found the body. But his limited communication skills made it impossible to know if Christopher understood that his sole caretaker had been dead for days. Social services took Christopher to a shelter and in March of 2011, as a child with special needs with no caretaker or provisions, he was declared a dependent of the state. Christopher was officially alone. The next month, Scott Robbins was assigned as Christopher’s CASA.

Scott

                Scott Robbins taught school for many years. After he retired in 2010, he decided to volunteer, “realizing he could go from seeing 150 kids a day to just one.”

                Scott met Christopher when Christopher was still living at the children’s shelter. Christopher’s limited verbal skills made the meeting awkward but Scott hung in. The next time it was easier and the visit after that easier still. Before long Christopher was comfortable being alone with Scott and the relationship evolved.

                “I didn’t know much about autism but learned a lot-about it and the child welfare system….about myself and other people,” said Scott. “There are many perspectives on what a foster child needs—you need to respect others’ opinions and attempt to find middle ground.”

                Christopher lived at the shelter for about 6 months, until social workers found him a foster placement. “It was not easy to place a 16 year old, almost non-verbal kid with behavioral challenges,” Scott admits. Unfortunately other children in the home were favored, making Christopher feel isolated and ostracized. Consequently, he acted out, which only exacerbated the problems. Scott advocated to have Christopher moved, but his age and behaviors made it hard to find another placement. During this time Scott saw Christopher regularly and worked hard to maintain the boy’s other touchstone, Arcata High School, where the resource teacher and classroom aid were familiar and comforting faces.

                After about 8 months Christopher was placed in a foster home in Lake County. “The foster parents were great but in retrospect, it was a bad decision,” Scott said. “We uprooted Christopher from everything he knew.” In Lake County, Christopher acted out and ran away. Fortunately Enriching Lives, a local foster placement agency, found a home for him back in Humboldt and Christopher returned to the comforting routine of regular visits with Scott. He also went back to Arcata High School where he could see his beloved teachers.

                Scott describes Christopher as “very sweet,” but points out that Christopher could be functioning at a higher level had his caretakers sought services for him at an earlier age. “It is disturbing to think about what could have been,” he said. In weak moments, Scott admits, he gets angry about that, but then remembers he is in the “here and now.” And he is with Christopher.

                Scott says in the last two years he has seen a lot of growth in Christopher’s emotional, intellectual and verbal ability and credits Christopher’s current foster care placement with much of the change. But Scott has made a difference as well. The once almost non-verbal young man now makes eye contact, holds basic conversations, works out at the gym, and can verbalize his needs to strangers. Perhaps the most remarkable improvement; he has learned to show empathy and compassion for his CASA.  On a recent visit to the library, Scott tripped and fell on the stairs.  Christopher asked him if he was ok, and Scott said that he was but he shed a few tears.  In an act of compassion, Christopher put his arm around Scott and told him, “It is ok, I’ll protect you,” as they walked down the stairs together.  This was a child who previously had walked up the stairs one foot at a time, left foot and then left foot again.  Now he was walking Scott down the stairs, one foot after the other, in an act of confidence and empathy. An encounter that would have seemed nearly impossible even one year ago.  


angelica & laurie's story

                Angelica’s father was serving a 16 year prison sentence for sexually abusing her when Laurie Newman became the CASA for her and her brother. Angelica admits that she didn’t make it easy for Laurie: “I went from a horrible situation – and had to adjust to a new life. A new self.” She was also running “amok,” as she described it. Without the fear of her father, she was exploring her boundaries and having difficulties at school: “I didn’t trust social workers or the authorities and I was scared.”

                Angelica also failed to connect with a counselor. While her social worker and attorney attempted to rein her in, Laurie instead offered kindness: “I didn’t need to be told what to do or have my mistakes pointed out,” Angelica remembered. “Laurie never judged or questioned my choices. With each challenge, she just helped me figure out what to do from there.”

                Laurie also remembered Angelica’s challenges, “Kids in the system are forced to adapt to so many changes. Social workers change, attorneys. As a CASA we are often the only constant and can offer a familiar face,” she said.

                When the children were threatened with deportation to Mexico, Laurie also worked hard to help secure green cards, which allowed them to stay in the only country, community and home they’d ever known. “They (relatives in Mexico) were only voices on the phone,” Angelica added. “And we were afraid of being sent away.”

                After spending time in foster care, Angelica enrolled in Launch Pad, an independent living program to help youth transition out of foster care. She also stayed in touch with Laurie. When Angelica was 15, she got pregnant, and her CASA helped, driving Angelica to appointments and attending the baby’s birth.

                Laurie also supported Angelica when her pregnancy forced her to leave Launch Pad and find a program that would accept her and her baby. Through Remi Vista Youth and Family Services Program, Angelica was able to get an apartment and learn important life skills such as shopping and paying her bills. She continued to see Laurie periodically, even though she was connected to different services. The two women had become more than friends.

                “Aging out doesn’t mean that you’re over all you went through, that your demons are gone,” Angelica mused. “To Laurie I wasn’t just a kid in the system. Laurie helped to validate that fact and that we walked the journey together.“

Today

                As Angelica aged out of the dependency system, she was determined to beat the statistics and have a career. She was also determined to avoid pitfalls all too common to sexually abused children—like drug use and prostitution. Today Angelica is happily married, working at a job she loves while she and her husband raise their three children

                Angelica also recently learned that Laurie had volunteered to be her CASA and that Laurie had not supported her over the years because it was her job. “It is so important when people care about you and are genuinely on your side,” Angelica said. “In situations like mine that support can really make or break a person. If I hadn’t had the support I did, I may have gone another way.”

                “Angelica has an inner strength and perseverance I wish I could give to other people,” countered Laurie. “What a humbling, amazing gift to be able to see those things in her.”

The Future

                Angelica is convinced that as an immigrant, the resources she found as she faced her legal and personal challenges in the US changed her life and wants to write a book about her experiences. “If this had happened in Mexico my father probably wouldn’t have been arrested or gone to prison,” she said. “I would have been moved to a different town- while my family ignored and tried to forget what happened.”

                Instead, through her CASA and others, Angelica found the support she needed that allowed her to survive and move on. “There is love here,” she said. “People who want you to be happy.”


Leslie's story

Long-time CASA volunteer Leslie Selvage grew up suffering in silence with a devastating secret. “It was a small town in the 1950s. Squeaky clean. Someplace where nothing bad happens and if it did, you didn’t talk about it.”

                Leslie’s father started sexually assaulting her when she was 7 years old. “It was paralyzing,” Leslie remembered. “He had told me that if I told anyone no one would believe me and I would be the one sent away.” The abuse continued until Leslie finally gathered her courage when she was 13 to tell her mother. “I didn’t care anymore. It overwhelmed my life. I was so preoccupied, wondering every day what I’d go home to. Finally I’d had enough.”

                Leslie’s mother reported the abuse to the authorities and Leslie’s father was taken into custody. He spent a year at a mental hospital before returning home to the family. After that, Leslie’s father did not physically abuse her, but the man who had raped her for years did continue to subject her to emotional abuse and hostility, making living in her own home a misery. “But the family never talked about it. I just tolerated it because that was expected.”

                She continued that silence, only sharing her experiences privately, until her mother passed away in 2006. “There was still this sense of shame and I didn’t want to embarrass my mother. But I knew I wanted to share my story someday and find a way to help others,” she said. “I knew there are other little girls who are trapped with no one to listen.” Leslie learned about CASA and recognized an opportunity. “It is all about helping and believing them. Being a constant –someone they can trust and know will always be there.”

CASA

                Over the years, Leslie has volunteered as an advocate for 9 different cases, and while she admits there are frustrations, she said her experiences have been mostly positive- starting with her first case. “It was a mom with twins. The kids were taken away with good reason but mom wanted them back and said she was willing to do whatever it took to get them.” Leslie believed in the mother’s commitment and saw the children’s desire to return to their mother.               “Especially in the early years, CASA wasn’t always focused on reunification but the social worker was,” she said. “And I could use my own experience and perspective to understand the children’s feelings.” Leslie said when her father threatened to send her away, the loss of her family was more than she could face, which is why she stayed silent so long. ”I see a fundamental drive in children to go home and though this was a philosophical shift at the time, I felt it was best to support mom and make sure the kids were returning to the very best place they could go.”

                While Leslie enjoyed regular visits with the girls, and provided the only consistent and familiar face while they were in foster care, she also helped get their mother to appointments and treatment. “Mom didn’t want kids back until she was totally better, which drove me to help her get better.” And she did. After successfully completing rehab and other requirements outlined by social services over the next 2 ½ years, the children were returned to their mother.

“So my first case was a success. Not all cases end ideally, but I know as a CASA I play an important role. Ideally you want all of them to go back to happy, healthy family. If that can happen it is wonderful. Some parents have a rough road, but most want to be healthy—which can be hard to accomplish but can happen. If not, you hope the children end up in a placement that is happy and healthy.”

                Leslie also hopes her presence as a CASA helps the children she’s worked with overcome the challenges that come with a history of abuse and neglect. “There was no one and no place for me but I know these children can rise above their experiences and don’t have to live dysfunctional lives. It is terrible what some kids have to go through, but those things have happened forever and will continue to happen. In the old days, no one got involved but today there are avenues to get help. I will feel lucky if I have helped even one child get through their experiences and back to a good place.”

                Leslie served for years on the CASA board and still helps with fundraising. She also shares her own experiences- which can help others in unexpected ways. After sharing her story publicly, a woman she grew up with approached her to say that that she had suffered the same type of abuse growing up, also in secret and silence. She was thankful to Leslie for sharing her story.

 

Joan's Story

Leslie Selvage says she didn’t do much as a CASA for Joan. “I was mostly someone to talk to,” she said. “It wasn’t a difficult case. I just visited with her and offered moral support.”  But that isn’t the way Joan remembers her CASA.

                Joan DeNudt grew up homeless, traveling the western states with her brothers, mother and her mother’s boyfriend, panhandling, recycling and doing whatever else they could for money and food. At one point she even stayed on the now closed south jetty homeless encampment, where she lived in third world conditions without plumbing or power and rape was not uncommon.

                When Joan became pregnant at 15, the family moved in with Joan’s grandmother. After Joan’s son was born, Joan and the baby moved in with her disabled aunt, so Joan could be her caretaker. While the situation was ok for a while, things deteriorated and at one point Joan’s aunt bit Joan’s baby. The incident was reported to social services, and the baby was removed and placed in foster care. Joan had visits and her baby’s foster mother suggested Joan enter foster care as well. Her son’s social worker agreed and Joan was placed with her son. Unfortunately the foster mother’s son was abusive toward other children in her care and the foster mother treated Joan badly- purchasing food for her family while leaving Joan and her baby unfed, unjustly accusing Joan of sleeping with the foster mother’s husband and more. Joan requested a move and her social worker placed Joan and her baby in a different home, which was a better fit.

                Around this time Leslie was assigned as Joan’s CASA. “Leslie taught me how to be a grown up,” Joan said. “We would go to the beach and other fun things but Leslie also helped me focus on different things I needed to do, like getting a driver’s license and opening bank account. Things my foster mother wasn’t teaching me.”

                Leslie also supported Joan’s decision to stay in care until she graduated from high school- even though social workers wanted to terminate services when Joan turned 18. “Leslie’s report to the judge made the difference. Basically Leslie said I was very determined and I WAS going to graduate,” Joan said, tearing up as she recalled the challenge. “It was the first time anyone ever believed in me.”

                “The attorney representing the county said she would never graduate,” Leslie recalled, “Being snarky for the maybe the first time, I said yes, she will graduate. I would put my life on it.” The judge agreed with Leslie’s recommendation and Leslie’s faith was rewarded when Joan graduated from high school at 21. “I was the first in my family to graduate,” Joan explained. “I wanted more than my mother had. I wanted to better myself.”

Today

                Joan is now a happily married mother of two, working at as a shift supervisor at a local pharmacy. Her face lights up when she talks about the future. “It is important to realize that even if you have a bad life, you’re not stuck. You don’t have to stay in a bad situation just because you grew up in one,” she said. “And CASAs can help—every kid should have one. What if you can be a positive influence in someone’s life, if you can be the person who makes a difference? Not what if you can,” she corrects herself. “CASAs can make a difference. They will.”


Laurie's story

Laurie Mark remembers exactly when and why she got involved with CASA.               

On October 1, 1993 twelve-year-old Polly Hannah Klaas was having a slumber party at her home in Petaluma when a strange man holding a knife entered her bedroom, tied up all the girls and took a sobbing Polly off into the night. Sadly Polly’s body was found three months later.

                “One of the girls that survived that night was the daughter of a close friend of mine,” Laurie explained. “My daughter was in the first grade- very young, and my husband and I decided not to tell her or her third grade sister what had happened. Then my youngest daughter came home from school one day and asked me if I’d heard of Richard Allen Davis—the man who murdered Polly. That was when I knew I had to find a way to get involved.”

                Soon after, Laurie responded to an ad on the radio calling for CASA volunteers. At that time CASA was new and relatively unknown in Humboldt County but Laurie was intrigued. “I don’t normally feel directed-get a sense that there is something that I need to do, but I felt called to get involved with CASA—almost afraid something bad would happen if I didn’t.”

                Over the next 23 years, Laurie served 14 CASA kids and supported countless CASA fundraisers. As co-owner of the Mill Yard, Laurie also used her business to further her support, participating in CASA fundraisers and donating auction items to The Big Night dinner.

                ”Supporting CASA has been very important but it is also hard work,” Laurie pauses. “It is horrifying to learn what people can do to their own children but I know the difference we (as CASAs) can make. A judge decides the child’s future and CASAs allow the court to understand what that child really needs. Every child needs a voice in court, advocating for what’s best in their lives.”

                CASAs also offer the child stability where none exists, Laurie pointed out. CASA children still living at home are experiencing chaos, likely neglected and too often abused. If they are in foster care, everything and everyone they know may be gone. “Often we are the one good thing left in their lives. A caring and familiar face. A CASA’s regular visits can always be a positive thing that child can look forward to, no matter what else is going on,” she added.

                But, Laurie conceded, CASAs know they can’t always expect rosy outcomes. “My hope is to get my CASA child to a place where they can finally understand what safety and security means and get the services they need. At the very least, I want to help make sure the abuse and neglect stop—and address the reason a CASA was assigned in the first place.”

                There are also happy endings, Laurie said, recalling how her first case ended with a celebration in Commissioner Joyce Hinrichs’ courtroom when her CASA children were adopted by their grandparents. ”My dream is that one day my CASA kids will look back and remember me as a light in a window. Remember that there was a lady that came all the time and cared, even if they don’t recall my name or what I did. I just hope I am that light.”


michelle's story

Although early social worker reports described Diana as a caring mother, Diana was raising her five year old daughter, Michelle, in a violent atmosphere. Heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs were within Michelle’s easy reach.

                After Diana was arrested multiple times, Michelle was placed in foster care. Amy Scolari became the little girl’s CASA. “At [Michelle’s] mom’s 6 month court review, she was showing minimal progress and was still unstable and homeless,” she said. Michelle’s father, who had expressed interest in rekindling a relationship with his daughter and perhaps regaining custody, had also done little to address his drug use and violent behavior. “Between the 6 and 12 month reviews, mom just made excuses about why she wasn’t engaging in treatment,” Amy remembered. “At 12 months… [Michelle’s mother] was still using meth and heroin. I had to recommend terminating services.” The court agreed with Michelle’s CASA and decided to proceed with a permanent placement plan for the little girl.

Lisa

                In her forties Lisa contacted social services to become a pre-approved foster placement-with the hope of eventually adopting. She had always wanted a child. This placement would be special because although she can read lips and speak, Lisa is deaf. Lisa also lived with her parents, which created a strong family unit. Social workers determined Lisa would be a good mother and this would be a good home for Michelle.

                Michelle met the family for the first time in an ice cream shop, but stuck close to her CASA. ““I didn’t really know these people,” Michelle remembered, “So I stayed close to Amy.”

                Over time the little girl had longer visits with Lisa and her parents, but while she got to know her new family, she continued to see Amy. “As her CASA, I was the only stable adult in her life and provided a familiar face,” Amy said. “My role was to be there for her and help her with her feelings when she was struggling or fearful.”

                Michelle grew more comfortable with the family and her adoption was final in March 2015. Amy’s visits became less regular but she still stayed in touch: “I felt really good about the placement and knew their hearts were in the right place” she said. “They definitely love her and will be her forever family.”

                Lisa and her parents also credit Michelle’s CASA with helping the little girl adjust to her new family. “Michelle considers Amy her good friend,” Lisa explained. “She helped with the transition, offering the support she needed at the time. It was a very positive experience and we know more people are needed, because there are many kids that fall through the cracks…”

                And it is clearly a good placement. Busy Michelle enjoys play dates, sleeping late, playing the piano and participating on the swim team. She has had perfect attendance at school and she placed high in a recent spelling bee. Michelle also grew four inches the first year in her new home. She communicates exceptionally well with her Mom, talking and using sign language, which she is learning and loves. 

                “Michelle was a strong little girl from the beginning,” Amy said, recalling a little girl who knew what she wanted and lead her CASA in their weekly activities to explore a park or hike in the forest. ”She was also very generous and sweet—a natural leader. She had her own opinions but was never pushy and was always open to new things. I could always see the young woman she would become and it has been incredible to be part of that process.”


Krissy & Joe's Story

After Krissy Mora suffered several miscarriages and a tubal pregnancy that threatened her life, she and her husband Joe decided not to risk more pregnancies. But Krissy and Joe had always wanted children. “We decided to be foster parents with hope of eventually adopting,” Krissy recalled.

                After completing the orientation and required classes, the now-licensed couple first fostered a newborn for a week before being asked to care for 2 month old Oriana, a drug-exposed infant who had been in foster care since birth. Though Oriana was a sweet and happy baby, Krissy said the placement was stressful. “Mom was homeless and had been using drugs since she was 15 years old (she was 33 when Oriana was born) and was still very into her addiction. Oriana was the first child she had carried full term—all the others had been miscarriages or stillbirths.”

                Visits with mom were rough, she said. “She really wanted the baby to want and love her but Oriana was too young to want anyone. Once when her mother was putting the baby in the car, she hit Oriana’s head. Mom then claimed Oriana was crying for her.” The social worker did not see the incident and mistook the crying as a sign of bonding between mother and child. The social worker also failed to require the mandated drug testing and didn’t seem to notice that mom was still using. In fact, at the 6 month review the social worker planned to recommend that the Oriana go back with her mother, who was also still homeless. “We pushed and succeeded in getting a new social worker who started drug testing mom, and making sure she followed the plan. She was going to recommend terminating services and then 2 days before our court date, mom entered treatment. The judge granted mom 6 more months of reunification services.” During this time the Mora’s also pushed for a CASA. “We knew about the work they did and wanted this baby to have a voice in court.”

Becky Murrish

                Becky Murrish decided to become a CASA after her mother passed away. ”I was entering a new phase of my life- a different season. I kept seeing and hearing about CASA and thought ‘it must be time to do this thing’.” Becky, a former teacher, took the training and has advocated for several children over the years. “The 1st part, spending time with child, is easy. That’s the sweet part- just to be there and collect information. But there are some scary parts,” She pauses. “The 2nd part is the court report. It is kind of like writing a term paper that has eternal consequences. So being a CASA is sweet and scary. But it is worth it.”

                When Becky was assigned as Oriana’s CASA, the Mora’s were ecstatic. “Becky was the missing piece of the puzzle,” Krissy recalled. “We finally had an outside voice looking out for the child—she got to see how Oriana was doing with us - and how two other little girls placed with us were doing as well.”

                Becky also monitored Oriana’s mother’s choices, which included dropping out with 3 days left in her treatment program. The mother then came back to Humboldt County and after a couple of weeks with no contact, wanted to resume visits with Oriana. “Becky could see the situation, and that her mother saw Oriana as more a possession than a child to care for. She came to visits strung out. At the 12 month review, the social worker recommended that the court terminate services for mom but the judge was torn—and was going to give mom another 6 months. He read Becky’s report describing the bond Oriana had with us and then referred to it again and fortunately changed his mind. Oriana was in a desperate situation facing two completely different paths and we wanted Oriana to have the best life possible. If she had gone back to her bio mom she would have a path that lead to a very hard life, and we hated seeing any child facing that situation. Becky, as CASA, changed the Judge’s decision. It was amazing.”

                The Mora’s chose to maintain a relationship with Oriana’s mother—who told Krissy that after reflecting on her life that she knew that her daughter was happier and healthier in the Mora’s home and would have many wonderful opportunities in life.  

                Months later, the Mora’s were fortunate to be able to adopt all three of their daughters on the same day. Becky Murrish, Oriana’s CASA, was there. “I came to the ceremony and it was incredibly uplifting,” Becky said. “I am so happy to see the girls in such a wonderful situation.”

                “Becky was there to help us celebrate with the family,” Krissy added. “And I hope she knows how much she meant to us. It is incredibly selfless to be a CASA and we will always be thankful.”