March 23, 2023
Where could Caden safely grow up?
Caden* was only a few hours old when his mother reached a crisis point in her mental illness.
Paranoid and delusional, she left the hospital against medical advice after giving birth, abandoning her baby.
Child Protective Services (CPS) worked diligently to reach Caden’s mother without success. Then they worked to find relatives who might be able to care for Caden, but family member after family member could not do it. The family had not seen Caden’s mother in months and did not know she was expecting. Taking in a baby with only a day’s notice felt like too much.
Meanwhile, tiny Caden needed someone to care for him and a place to call home. CPS placed him with a foster family, where he settled in, blissfully unaware of the chaos surrounding his birth. He was assigned Dallas CASA volunteer Megan, who began visiting Caden and offering support to his foster family.
Megan observed a happy baby with lots of support. When he developed a rash on his arm, the foster parents took him to the doctor, where he was diagnosed with an allergy to cow’s milk. Megan helped them access resources for alternative infant formula.
The family was diligent about ensuring Caden was developing appropriately, getting him evaluated and sharing with Megan the news he was right on track. When she visited, Caden often fell asleep in his foster father’s arms or smiled at him from his tummy time mat on the floor.
Megan worked closely with everyone on the case, including attorneys, Caden’s family, CPS and others to ensure that Caden’s time in foster care went as smoothly as possible.
Unfortunately, over the next few months, Caden’s mother’s mental health continued to decline. She loved her baby, but she was not stable enough to care for him.
Caden’s grandmother approached CPS a few months later. Her circumstances had changed, and she was now open to caring for Caden.
Meanwhile, Caden’s foster family had grown to love him deeply and was prepared to provide a permanent home for him if needed.
His mother loved him. His family loved him. His foster family loved him.
But where was the best place for him to grow up?
During a mediation, CPS, Megan, Caden’s family members and others agreed family reunification with his grandmother was in his best interest.
His grandmother spoke up and said she would be open to the foster family having contact with Caden as he grew up. She also wanted to make his transition to her home as smooth as possible and worked closely with the foster family to meet Caden and learn about his routine and preferences. She set up a room for Caden and invited Megan to see the room before he moved in. She also wanted his mother to be able to visit him safely. She suggested another family member serve as observer for these visits, allowing Caden to grow up safe but also knowing his mother and her love for him.
Today, Caden lives permanently with his grandmother. He goes to daycare around the corner from the family home, and he and his grandmother have support from their church as well as his aunts and uncles, many of whom live nearby. Despite the chaos around the time of his birth, Caden was surrounded by love and support from the very start.
* Names have been changed to protect privacy. Image is not of actual subjects.