JRI/COVID-19 Navigator

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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.

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Forever

Forever families.

By: Courtney Edge-Mattos

The courthouse was bustling with activity.  A digital sign welcomed families.  On the third floor, balloons bobbed, Storm Troopers doled out high fives and hugs, and photographers snapped away, capturing moments of joy.  Everyone was dressed in their finest, from little Mary Jane shoes on feet who could not yet walk to three piece suits and bow ties.  There was excitement, confusion, commotion, anxiety, and oh so much love.  Families waited for their turn to be called.  It felt like it took forever.

I met the W family five years ago.  A mom and dad-to-be, waiting for children to find their front door.  We waded through the process together, from MAPP class to interviews to Physical Standards Inspections.  It took longer than hoped for (it always does), but they were approved in the late winter, as the holiday season passed by.  The room stood empty, waiting for a child or two to fill in the space.  It felt like it had been empty forever.

Early summer brought them, two giggling, running, tumbling boys.  The space filled in quickly, with toys, clothing, pictures, art work, and more.  Connected to the boys were their siblings, living with two other families, geographically separated.  New relationships were formed and navigated.  The family pictures on the mantle expanded to include a brother, a sister, and the people attached to them.  Tummy Mommy’s picture was placed on the bedside table.  Bedtime prayers grew longer and longer as the boys identified more and more people as their family members.  Everything grew and grew.  It felt like the boys had been there forever.

Courts move at a pace all their own.  Everyone steeled themselves for court days, only to be told the case was continued time and time again.  On all sides, court days are stressful.  Had something changed?  Would the boys go home?  Had another family member come forward?  Was the judge going to make a determination?  Would trial dates be established?  The adults involved wrung their hands, imagined all of the possible outcomes.  The boys, on the other hand, were just boys.  They continued to giggle, run, tumble.  They learned their ABCs and numbers, to ride a bike with training wheels, how to be on a soccer team, how to stand in line at school to go to recess.  They colored pictures, read books, crashed trucks under the dining room table.  They grew and grew.  Would they get to see them grow more, or would the boys disappear one day?  It felt like it would be like this, the uncertainty, forever.

From start to finish, the W’s journey took five years.  As I sat on the bench of the court room, a room filled with people they love, the boys’ siblings’ families, social workers, and the judge who had presided over the whole case, a case that started two years before the boys’ walked through the W’s door, I saw love.  I saw dedication to doing the right thing, to giving four children the safest, steadiest futures possible.  I saw bonds forged over time.  I saw four faces who reflect their mother, a woman not in the court room, a woman who surely dreamed a different dream for her children, but always a dream where they were safe and loved forever.  I saw families embrace.  I saw their forever.

To the W family, thank you for trusting me and letting me be part of your journey.  It has been such an honor. 

To the families considering adoption, the journey is long, the road is unpredictable, but to be able to say forever is the privilege of a lifetime.  If you are interested in foster care or adoption through foster care, please visit our website and connect with us.

#nationaladoptionday #adoption #foreverfamilies #fostercare #FosterHopeFosterCare

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