A Reunification Story
Gabrielle's journey back home
Today Gabrielle* is a healthy, happy six-year-old girl looking forward to starting first grade in the fall. One of her parents is usually home with Gabrielle. On the odd day that both work the same shift, a friend of the family stops by to help. Gabrielle enjoys healthy meals, knows where she’s going to sleep each night, and is surrounded by adults who love and care for her. It wasn’t always this way.
When Gabrielle was younger, her parents struggled with substance abuse. At times the family didn’t have a place of their own to stay. Gabrielle didn’t receive adequate medical care, and sometimes there wasn’t anything to eat. Shortly before her fourth birthday, Gabrielle was removed from her parents’ custody and placed into protective care.
Gabrielle was then referred to Stanford Sierra Youth & Families’ foster care and adoption program, Pathways to Permanency (P2P). Nina*, a P2P worker, placed Gabrielle with the Jordans, a local resource family. The Jordans provided Gabrielle a safe, welcoming home, while Nina worked to reunify Gabrielle with her parents.
Gabrielle struggled in her foster placement. The trauma of being removed from her parents coupled with the uncertainty of not knowing if she would see them again made her anxious and upset. Meanwhile, Gabrielle’s parents were shaken by the loss of custody. Realizing how serious their addictions had become, they both sought treatment.
Fortunately, they made steady progress in their recovery. Soon they were granted supervised visits with their daughter. However, Gabrielle was often anxious about the lengthy trips to and from her parents’ house. And she didn’t always understand why, at the end of the visit, she had to leave them again.
Working together, Gabrielle’s parents, the Jordans, Nina, and the county social worker agreed to a visitation plan that that worked for everybody. Gabrielle thrived, and her parents were inspired to continue with their recovery.
During the following year, Gabrielle’s parents and the Jordans grew closer, developing a friendly co-parenting relationship of sorts that paved the way for the next transition. Earlier this spring, Gabrielle was reunified with her parents, who are now drug free, employed, and overjoyed to be a family with their daughter again. The Jordans remain close friends with them all.
*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.