Permanency in a Cookie Jar

 

“As soon as we pulled into the driveway, 11-year-old Jenny* blew past me and let herself in through the front door, dropped her bag, kicked off her shoes, and ran to the kitchen. I’ve taken a lot of kids to foster homes for placement, and none of them act the way she did. You could tell she felt comfortable, you could tell she felt safe, you could tell it was familiar.”

Jenny was an infant the first time she entered foster care, when she spent a few months with her paternal Uncle Bobby and Aunt Rebecca. When Jenny was six years old, she lost her father to a drug overdose, and subsequently lost contact with the paternal side of her family.

She was 11 years old when she re-entered care earlier this year. That day, her case was assigned to Kinnect’s 30 Days to Family® Ohio Family Specialist. The Family Specialist immediately began searching for Jenny’s family, and within three days, located Uncle Bobby and Aunt Rebecca. Even though Jenny’s mom had kept Jenny from her dad’s side of the family after her father’s overdose, Uncle Bobby and Aunt Rebecca had saved photos of Jenny, kept an eye on her through social media, and were very excited to welcome Jenny into their home. The 30 Days to Family® Ohio team interviewed Uncle Bobby and Aunt Rebecca and conducted a thorough home study before approving a weekend visit for Jenny.

During Jenny’s weekend with Bobby and Rebecca, Jenny’s adult sister and several aunts and uncles came to visit her, and her best friend even came to spend the night. The Family Specialist was happy to see the way these other family members were wrapping around Jenny during this difficult change, and that Bobby and Rebecca were supporting her to maintain relationships that were important to her. After the weekend, Kinnect’s 30 Days to Family® Ohio team agreed that it was in Jenny’s best interest to be placed with Uncle Bobby and Aunt Rebecca.

The day of Jenny’s move, the Family Specialist picked up Jenny from her foster home. Jenny chatted excitedly during the hour-long drive.  As the Family Specialist started up the driveway to Jenny’s new home, Jenny sprinted past her, flung open the front door, and made a bee-line to the kitchen. With the Family Specialist on her heels, Jenny dipped her hand into the family’s cookie jar. The Specialist wondered how Bobby and Rebecca would react.  Normally when children are brought to a new home, they’re scared. They stick close to the caseworker and would never help themselves to food—many don’t even speak up if they are hungry. But Jenny stood at the counter happily snacking on a chocolate chip cookie. When Aunt Rebecca entered the kitchen, she told Jenny that she is welcome to have as many cookies as she would like. It was clear—Jenny had found a loving home with family.

*All names and identifying details have been changed