Not all of the children who live at Dorie’s Promise are on a path towards adoption. Many of our children are considered foster children when they first enter our home and can eventually be reunited with their families. We’re proud of the way our staff is keeping families connected during the pandemic.
Safety Concerns Close the Courts
The pandemic presents some very unique concerns for the family court system and our staff. As part of the March mass closure of businesses in Guatemala, the family courts also closed. These actions were like hitting pause on all of our children’s court proceedings.
Starting in March and lasting until August, only emergency hearings were being held.
With widespread closures and without in-person services, the families of our foster children are unable to complete their court-ordered therapies, classes, and home visits. Families wishing to be reunited with their children are in a holding pattern until they can meet their court requirements, have their follow-up home visits, and receive an in-person hearing in family court. We can’t imagine how hard this is on those families.
In August, limited hearings resumed via video conferencing. We don’t anticipate the courts reopening for in-person hearings until late this year.
Keeping Families Connected During the Pandemic
Earlier this year, we shared Christopher’s story. He suffered some medical complications during birth and was put in our care while he recovered. We anticipated a reunion with his mother and grandmother within a few months. Unfortunately, when the pandemic hit, Christopher’s court hearings were postponed. His family’s regular visits were also suspended because we have to limit visitors at Dorie’s Promise.
Over the last few months, Christopher has learned to roll over, start eating solid food, and even crawl. We hate that his family has missed these special moments. Christopher’s mother and grandmother want their baby boy home and are committed to doing whatever is needed to bring him home.
When it became apparent that we would be quarantined for an extended time, our staff got creative and found a way to offer visitation. We know that keeping families connected during the pandemic will make reunification afterward smoother. Our social worker helps Christopher connect with his family through video calls. His mother gets to see her little boy and Christopher gets to see his mother and hear her voice.
We’re using technology the best ways we can to help families stay connected.
Still Working for our Kids
As soon as the courts started scheduling virtual hearings, our legal assistant began submitting requests.
Jessica believes our children deserve to have their cases heard in court and to seek resolution. She wants our children’s voices to be heard, even now. Over the last few months, she hasn’t slowed down in her fight for their rights. As they facilitate virtual visits, she and our social worker have also been documenting their efforts for the courts. They’re compiling a case on behalf of our kids to document their life during the pandemic.
Once hearings resume, they want the judges to understand how these families interacted and the level of commitment they’ve shown. If these families are willing to put in the effort to stay connected, we want to honor their efforts in the courts.
Persistence in submitting requests and maintaining contact with the family court paid off last month when video hearings resumed. We were able to go before the court twice in August and have several more hearings scheduled before the end of 2020.
Jessica is fighting for time in the courts. Our children are being heard. Their cases are moving forward. Until they are reunited with their families, Christopher and all of our other foster children are safe and loved at Dorie’s Promise.
When you become a monthly sponsor at Dorie’s Promise, your support helps all of the children in our home. Our goal is to be 100% supported through monthly sponsors. We’ve already reached 69%. You can help us get even closer to our goal. Become a monthly sponsor of Dorie’s Promise today.