Rebecca and John received baby Eli into their foster home when he was three months old. He was born drug and alcohol exposed and was far behind healthy infant developmental milestones. Over the next twelve months his foster parents, a team of specialized health professionals, and occupational therapists worked tirelessly to give Eli the care and support he needed to overcome his deficits and grow into a thriving healthy baby.
After thirteen consecutive months with his foster family, when it was time to move forward with the permanent plan of adoption, Eli’s social worker proposed a plan to move him to an out-of-state relative. Eli had met this relative only once, during a brief visit. Rebecca and John called Advokids to ask how they could advocate for Eli. They understood that Eli’s emotional growth and development were dependent on a stable, predictable, and nurturing caregiving relationship. They were concerned that Eli would suffer a traumatic loss if abruptly moved out of state. Advokids’ Hotline staff explained how they could bring their concerns to the juvenile court judge who ultimately should decide what plan was in Eli’s best interest. Advokids enlisted the help of Tom Paoli, an attorney on our pro bono roster, and Wendy von Wiederhold, Ph.D, a pro bono child development expert. Together with Eli’s pediatrician and caregivers, this “dream team” demonstrated to the court over the course of several months that the adversities Eli had already faced in is short life, as well as his close bond with his caregivers at the critical stage of his development at one year of age, was evidence that an unnecessary move would not be best for Eli. After 21 months, Eli is on track to be adopted and become a permanent member of Rebecca and John’s family.