Sometimes the road to permanency can be a bumpy ride. The Johnson children were removed from their mother’s home due to its unsuitable condition and the apparent neglect of their health and welfare.
The three children were 1, 2, and 5 years old at the time of removal; unfortunately, no single home could take them, so they were separated and placed in 2 different foster homes. Dave and BJ Sanderfer, the CASA volunteers for the Johnson* children, were very vocal about maintaining the sibling relationships despite the separate accommodations.
Fortunately, the foster homes were near enough to each other to permit sibling visits. Unfortunately, the children acted out against their foster families, biting and hitting the other children in the home. Dave and BJ pushed for them to receive play therapy to help mitigate these behaviors. Neither of the two foster homes the Johnson children were staying in were adoptive homes, so the two youngest children were moved to a new placement in October. Two weeks later, that placement put in their notice.
Meanwhile, the Johnson parents faced their own struggles. Shortly after the children were removed, Rachel Johnson, their mother, disappeared. Their father, Greg Johnson, was in jail for the first 5 months of the case. As soon as he was released, he talked about wanting to work his service plan in the hopes of having the children returned to him. Ultimately, he did not follow through and the children remained in foster care.
Once it was determined that the Johnson children were unlikely to return to their parents, the Sanderfers began advocating for an adoptive home for all three children. A potential adoptive family was located 4 hours away from the current foster placements and plans were made for a visit.
It was decided that their caseworker would load all of the childrens’ belongings into the van, drive the 4 hours, spend as much time as possible with the couple and then leave for ice cream while the couple discussed whether they wished to adopt the Johnson kids. The kids behaved wonderfully on the drive, and took to the couple immediately. The couple decided on the spot that they would be keeping the kids! The 5-year-old boy unloaded their belongings himself, declaring he would put them in HIS house.
Fortunately for children like the Johnsons, volunteers like BJ and Dave Sanderfer are willing to fight to ensure all children in their cases find happy, secure homes.
*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.