One year old Kaiden had lived with Gail since birth. Gail was committed to adopting Kaiden if he was unable to reunify with his parents. Kaiden’s biological parents were no longer in the picture. He had a few visits with his grandfather and step grandmother but they were not being considered for placement due to past criminal history. When Kaiden’s grandfather passed away, step grandmother asked her daughter, who was not related to Kaiden, to seek placement of Kaiden. Visits with the step-aunt started right away, before she was formally licensed as a foster caregiver.
Gail was in the dark about why a step aunt with no prior relationship was being considered for placement of Kaiden and she was concerned about Kaiden participating in unsupervised visits with a stranger. Gail was also concerned because step aunt was not aware of Kaiden’s medical needs or specialized therapy and knew so little about him.
Once licensed, step-aunt petitioned the court for placement of Kaiden. The county social worker and Kaiden’s attorney gave no indication whether they supported or opposed a move of Kaiden to step-aunt, although they both affirmed that Kaiden was thriving in Gail’s care and had a strong attachment to her.
Advokids enlisted a pro bono attorney, Adam Trigg, who helped her bring evidence to the juvenile court judge about Kaiden, his needs, and his attachment to Gail. He reminded the court that Kaiden, after one year in foster care, in the only home he had ever known, was ready for permanency and the law no longer allowed relatives to be given preferential consideration for placement. The judge agreed.