Newborn Jacinta was ready to go home from the hospital, but there was no home for her to go home to.
Jacinta was born into a tangled web of domestic violence, homelessness and mental illness that left her parents unable to care for her. Her three older siblings were being raised by their grandmother, who was stretched financially, physically and emotionally and could not care for another child.
Child Protective Services found Jacinta’s great-aunt and uncle, and the couple agreed to bring Jacinta home. They’d raised two children together, though both were out of the house.
Dallas CASA volunteer Heidi was assigned to baby Jacinta’s case and began visiting regularly. She got to know Jacinta as well as her caregivers, who came to rely on Heidi for information about the case.
The case slowly wound its way through the child welfare system. After a year Jacinta’s mother agreed her aunt and uncle should raise her baby, but then Jacinta’s father could not be found to sign off on he agreement. Once he was found after several months, he failed to show up for five DNA tests in a row. The case changed caseworkers twice, delaying progress again and confusing everyone involved.
Meanwhile, Jacinta continued to grow into a bubbly, sweet toddler, crawling and then walking and then running. Jacinta’s great-aunt and uncle, who’d raised Jacinta since birth and were the only parents she ever known, loved her and were ready to adopt her.
Advocate Heidi knew the child needed the reassurance the only home she’d ever known would be hers forever, and Jacinta’s great-aunt and uncle were stressed and confused. Heidi advocated for permanency for the pig-tailed little girl. She worked with CPS and Jacinta’s attorney, encouraging the case to move along and make Jacinta’s home forever.
Jacinta was adopted last year by her tearful but jubilant great-aunt and uncle. The child they’d raised and loved was finally theirs forever.