Faces of Foster Care: Dylan, Aaliyah, and the Lopes Family

A brother and sister of African ancestry smile at the camera and pose on a grassy lawn.

By: Angela Navarro-Santiago

Stacy and James Lopes were empty nesters when they decided to foster again. They had previously fostered and took guardianship of their son’s teenage friend years prior. As a stay at home mother, Stacy enjoyed being present for her biological children as they were growing up and felt she and James still had the ability to make a difference in a youth’s life.

After a couple of months, the Lopes’ home ultimately opened in January. Stacy and James were presented with an emergency placement for a siblings set. A four-year-old boy Dylan and his 14-month-old sister Aaliyah. Without hesitation, the couple opened their home to the siblings. Stacy felt this age was perfect for their family as their grandchildren were the same age and could act as a support/play pals for the siblings. 

While Dylan did a great job socializing with peers and their grandchildren, Stacy and James quickly learned that Dylan was suffering from reoccurring nightmares. He also struggled with redirection, hearing the word “no”, and self-regulation. Stacy and James noticed an uptick in these behaviors and Dylan’s anxiety around visit days with his biological family. With the assistance of Dylan’s JRI case manager the couple was able to find Dylan a play therapist. Stacy and James worked very closely with the therapist to help Dylan build his coping skills and vocalize what he was feelings when upset or anxious rather than tantruming.

Dylan slowly began opening up to the Lopes. In particular, Dylan grow a close bond and attachment to James. While Dylan was previously very protective and displayed parentified behaviors around Aaliyah, he slowly began to relax and allow the Lopes to parent her.

Once an anxious and closed off child, Dylan flourished while in Stacy and James’ home. He began to sleep soundly and slowly his anxiety around family visits lessened, as he understood that he would be returning to the foster home, which had become his safe place.

If you can gently support a child who requires a safe and understanding space please reach out today. There are children like Dylan waiting for gentle arms to help them feel safe and free to embrace their childhood.


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Rachel has been a part of the JRI team since January, 2000. For over 20 years, Rachel has been working in the field of human services assisting families with accessing and navigating services. Rachel received her Bachelors degree in psychology and Masters Degree in Public Administration from Bridgewater State University. She was promoted in July 2005 to Family Networks Program Director where she closely worked with the Department of Children Families for 10 years ensuring that children and families received the highest quality of individualized services ranging from community based through residential care. Rachel is very dedicated to helping the individuals she works with and is committed to improving the lives of children and families. Rachel’s passion for creative service programming inspires her in her role as JRI Service Navigator.