“Best birthday ever,” Leianna squealed after her adoption was finalized by Judge Susan Blanco on her 11th birthday two Fridays ago.
This day was 3 ½ years in the making, and quite a journey for Leianna and her two siblings, 6-year-old Matthew, and 8-year-old Dominaya. The trio of siblings were removed from their home 3 ½ years ago as a result of child abuse and neglect. Thankfully, their mother’s cousin, Brandi Valdez, took the children into her home as soon as she was called.
Bethany, a CASA volunteer, was appointed to the case soon after the children moved in with Ms. Valdez. As a former foster care provider herself, Bethany went straight to work building a relationship with the children so she could learn how to best advocate for each child. Over the course of these past three years, Bethany drove from Fort Collins to Commerce City every month to visit the children. In between visits she kept contact with them through video chats and phone calls.
Program Manager, Megan Northway, stated, “Bethany has been a strong advocate. She regularly checks in with doctors, dentists, teachers, therapists, and (before termination) biological parents. She has been the squeaky wheel on this case, and it helped ensure a lot of things for the kids; that their IEPs and 504s started being followed at school, that their crucial therapy services continued despite funding issues, and that adoption finally moved forward after stalling out for a year and a half.”
Bethany also tapped into community resources and emergency funding from partners like Realities for Children to help support Ms. Valdez as a stable placement after she temporarily lost employment. From securing access to food, housing assistance, and even replacing an oven after a fire, Bethany made sure the children’s needs were being met at every turn.
“Your CASA has helped me out SO much. Way more than anyone has EVER helped me. She is, like, a Godsend,” stated Valdez. CASA of Larimer County has been happy to help, and we know we never could have helped this much if Bethany weren’t such a dedicated and fierce advocate.
Most importantly, Bethany was a voice for these children. While reunification with parents is always the first goal, it was important that Bethany was able to be the voice in court on behalf of the children when they no longer wanted to have contact with their biological parents.
“Throughout my years in the foster system, first as a professional, then a foster mom, and now a CASA, I’ve seen a lot of brokenness. Sometimes people ask me why it hasn’t driven me away yet. But why shout about a broken system when you can dive in and be part of making it better?” – Bethany DeHamer, CASA Volunteer
With over 600 children involved in dependency and neglect cases each year in Larimer County, it is wonderful to see the impact volunteers and donors can have when they work together to meet the needs of children. This year thanks to the collaborative work of the Department of Human Services, CASA of Larimer County, and many community partners, these three children will have a family of their very own as we enter the holiday season.
For more information about Larimer County’s foster care system and for an update on how the children are doing today, check out this article by the Coloradoan.