I first met JJ when he was four years old. He was in his second foster home since separation from his Mother about seven months before. He would be moved again to two additional foster homes over the next year. He was developmentally delayed and legally blind. He did not know how to eat; meaning, he did not know to chew his food. He was still in diapers. All the foster mothers reported that he “keeps running into furniture.” Again, he was legally blind, he only saw shadows. His environment was being changed from one home to the next.
I would visit him monthly. After 4 or 5 months, he would be running and then head straight into me and hug me. I believed he recognized my smell or cologne. When I discuss these issues with the CASA consultant, I learned that there was a program at Children’s Hospital to deal with developmentally delayed children – to toilet train them and teach them to eat solid foods. This appeared in my CASA reports to the Court. This would appear on subsequent reports, reminding the parties in bold how many times this recommendation has been made and yet, no follow up. Finally, a Motion was filed with the Court to compel DSS to bring this child to the hospital. On the day of the Motion, all parties were greeted by the DSS attorney and informed that JJ was at the hospital being enrolled into the Program.
While investigating JJ’s case, interviewing family and friends, I learned there was a paternal aunt who had already adopted her autistic nephew. She had a two-year degree in child psychology and had lost her child. She loved this nephew and very much wanted to take care of JJ. She became JJ’s foster mother and, when the case concluded, adopted JJ. She always sends me a picture of JJ every Christmas with a note on how well he is doing and that he is a joy.