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Shondra & Jalia's Story
Raylynn was born premature, drug positive, with heavy symptoms of withdrawal. She was released from the hospital directly into a foster home, where she continued to require extensive medical treatment.
Our volunteer recounts, “I worked on Raylynn’s case for nearly two years, visiting, watching her grow, following up on service plans, medical treatments, and gathering every detail I could about her life.”
I knew Raylynn’s parents loved her, but I had not seen either parent demonstrate the ability to focus on the needs of a medically fragile child.
Her mother’s participation lacked in consistency as she struggled with substance abuse treatment, and her father engaged late following his release from prison due to his extensive drug and criminal history. His pace of establishing independence caused concern.
I made the hard decision to begin advocating for termination of parental rights, however; the court determined the parents had made enough progress and did not honor my recommendation. The case planning process also went in the opposite direction of my recommendations, and visitation with her father progressed to unsupervised visits. I continued to see Raylynn decline week after week in her wellbeing as visits in the father’s home continued. I continued to fight for what was in her best interests. At the following hearing, the court did what the court is designed to do, balanced out the differing recommendations, and kept the case open for an additional three months. During this time, Raylynn’s father experienced several disruptions that led to his inability to care for his daughter.
This is where Raylynn’s story becomes beautiful.
In 2014, Raylynn officially became a member of the foster family that cared for her since birth. While Raylynn was unable to be reunified with her biological family, her forever family has chosen to keep those bonds open. Raylynn remains connected to her biological parents and visits them when they are healthy. Today, Raylynn is approaching her 7th birthday, and she is thriving. She is achieving her developmental milestones and is surrounded by a loving family who supports her connections with her biological family.”