*To protect the children in our program, names and photographs do not represent the people in this story.

GINA & BETH

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Gina was an infant being raised by her grandmother and was born exposed to crack cocaine. Gina’s mother had been a victim of abuse and had spent 15 years of her life in foster care, became pregnant as a teen, and struggled with drug addiction. As a result of her inability to break the cycle of drugs and abuse, she lost 5 children to the system. Her youngest was Gina.

 

When Gina’s CASA, Beth, was assigned the case, she found that her grandmother was elderly and suffered from several health issues. Beth quickly realized that Gina’s grandmother might not be able to raise her to maturity. Beth needed to find out more about Gina’s father and family but was not able to find it in her case files. She was going to need to meet with Gina’s mother and reengage her in her daughter’s life but knew from others that it was going to be a difficult challenge if not next to impossible.

 

So Beth implemented a plan. Every week, Beth took a Polaroid picture of Gina and would slide under the mother’s door along with her phone number. After a few months of weekly visits, Gina’s mother finally contacted Beth. She was ready to talk and wanted to know about her daughter.

 

Beth was able to meet and interview Gina’s mother many times. She would learn that Gina’s father, who had been incarcerated shortly after Gina’s birth, had family members who live in the state. Beth contacted them, and they took an interest in getting to know Gina. They recently attended her second birthday party.

 

Although she isn’t stable enough to pursue custody, Gina’s mother stays aware of her daughter’s life through DHS and CASA. Because of Beth’s persistence, Gina now has a larger family of support, and Beth is comforted to know that if anything happens to the grandmother, Gina has a network of family to call.

 

“I believe in my heart that if I had not stepped into Gina’s life and persistently pursue her mother like I did, Gina might not be with us today.” -Beth

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Photography ©Lars Topelmann