Five-year-old Angela loves to dance, draw and sing like any other happy kindergartener. She is, in many ways, a very different little girl from the one who found herself suddenly detached from her parents and flown across the country to live with her grandparents in Arizona two years ago.
At Angela’s parents’ home in Connecticut, domestic violence, drug use and mental illness were ongoing problems. Child protective services ultimately stepped in; Angela was removed from her parents’ home and placed in foster care.
When Angela’s grandfather, Vicente, heard the news, he turned to his wife Angie and said, “Go get that little girl.” It wasn’t easy negotiating child welfare regulations in two states. But five weeks later, Angela was on her way to Arizona.
When she first came to her grandparents’ home, Angela seemed confused about why she was there; and Vicente and Angie noticed an obvious sadness in her eyes. Also, as is typical of children with Angela’s experiences, she often acted more like an adult than a child of three. Angie and Vicente were determined to help and to provide their granddaughter with the stability, commitment and security she needed.
Southwest Human Development’s Kinship Care and Adoptions program completed a home study for the couple and supported the family as they adjusted to their new lives together. In this program, staff work with children as they learn to deal with their history and adjust to their new home. They also help relatives like Angie and Vicente understand the impact of abuse and neglect, including how it affects a child’s behavior and how they can help the child heal and feel safe and secure once again.
After living with her grandparents for several months, Angela’s nightmares subsided and she began to open up and become more outgoing and social. Angie and Vicente work hard to show Angela what healthy relationships look like.
Angela is in contact with both of her parents through letters and phone calls, and she has visited her mother in Connecticut. She remains close to her father, who is currently incarcerated for drug charges in Connecticut but plans to move to Arizona when he is released.
On August 26, 2010, after 18 months of caring for their granddaughter, Angie and Vicente became her legal guardians.