We met Braelynn when she first came to live with us at three weeks old. She was a foster child in desperate need of a home to stay in, a home we could provide. Soon after Braelynn came into our care we met her biological mother during a visit. After seeing how much we loved Braelynn and how much Braelynn loved us (and after being told by DSS that Braelynn was living with “one of the best”) she asked us if we would adopt her. September 1st, 2015 we did just that. Fifteen months later, Braelynn is now three and a half years old, the SC Court of Appeals vacated her adoption without thought to her best interest.
Braelynn came to us with Deformation Asymmetric Brachycephaly from having Torticollis. This is a deformation of the skull and we have been very attentive in making sure she received the medical help needed, or to the extent DSS would allow. Because of Braelynn’s condition, she was in need of orthotic treatment and a cranial Helmet. The insurance that DSS provided would not cover this treatment and despite our pleading, we were not successful in obtaining approval for us to pay for the treatment ourselves.
Because Birth-Mom asked us to adopt, we moved forward with our adoption process. Braelynn was still in need of medical help regarding her Deformation Asymmetric Brachycephaly. Her Torticollis had been treated but the Deformation still needed to be addressed. Without DSS approval we were unable to opt to sign and pay for the procedure needed to correct this medical condition. As foster Parents, we are not allowed to sign and pay without permission even if we agree to pay out of pocket. So, we went to court to ask for custody of Braelynn to enable us to help with her medical needs. The cranial helmet was very important for Braelynn’s development and wellbeing. Without this helmet, she would have had many obstacles that would have hindered her lifelong. The brain is not like water. It does not take the shape of the container. The brain would have had pressure spots because of the deformation. With this severe condition it was imperative that Braelynn receive this help. The timeframe for being able to receive this treatment and helmet was limited. Braelynn was 9 months old at this time and approaching her first birthday. The skull slows in the growth process drastically after a year old and would make correction more difficult if not impossible. After waiting and waiting for DSS to change Braelynn’s insurance we went to court and received joint custody along with DSS and we could finally provide the help Braelynn needed. We paid for this procedure out of pocket. Braelynn’s health and wellbeing was worth it.
After receiving joint custody and being allowed as a party to the case, we then went to court many many times. The Judge at that time ruled that Braelynn’s bio-father was not a person whose consent was necessary and that even if it was; his rights were terminated because he had failed to meet state directed standards by not inquiring about Braelynn or her wellbeing nor did he try and sufficiently support her.
After all the legal wrangling within the entire court system, and the South Carolina Supreme Court appointed another Judge to hear the case. We went to court in July 2015 when Braelynn was 2-year-old. The Judge ruled in September 2015 that it was in Braelynn’s best interest for us to adopt her. The Judge also terminated the bio-father’s parental rights finding, just as the First Judge had, that his consent was not required. We were so happy to finally have made legal, what we had believed in our hearts for a long time, that Braelynn was our daughter.
Braelynn is a beautiful loving, trusting, happy, and healthy 3 ½ year old. She loves going to ballet with her sisters and homeschool coop. She learns quickly and was the earliest of our children to be able to swing herself on a swing. She has watched her big sisters and loves to be like them.
When Braelynn was just one-year-old her, half-sister came to also live with us. She has bonded with her and loves her sister very much. Our family loves Braelynn tremendously and she is as much a part of us as our biological children. To take Braelynn from her home and family would be devastating to her, her sisters and brothers, and of course, us as her parents. Braelynn has never spent even a night away from home.
We have been a family since Braelynn was 3 weeks old. However, we became legally a family over a year and a half ago. We have lived as a family and feel it would be very confusing to Braelynn and her sisters and brothers to suddenly be told they are no longer family! Please tell me how to explain to a 3 ½ year old that you are no longer a part of our family. That we are no longer your Mommy and Daddy. That your sisters and brothers are no longer your sister and brothers. THIS IS IMPOSSILBE AND UNCOMPREHENSABLE. We don’t feel that the South Carolina Court of Appeals decision to overturn our adoption is at all in the best interest of Braelynn.
If our adoption is reversed, and Braelynn is removed from the only home she has ever known, she will have lost her entire family and world. She will be sent to live with someone she has never even met. Her sense of trust and attachments will be broken and this will have lasting and devastating implications for her for the remainder of her natural life. She will be at a higher risk for depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. Her ability to engage in relationships in the future will be severely hampered. Braelynn did not ask to have her life turned upside down. We did not set out to separate a family. We were asked by her birth-mother to adopt and raise her. We fell in love with Braelynn and want to give her the best we can. We feel that our adoption and all adoptions should be protectedby our court system, not wreak havoc in an adoption that was finalized fifteen months ago. We also feel that Foster Parents (relative or not) should not exclude in being chosen to offer a child a forever home. Quite honestly, many times, we are the ONLY ones who truly know the child and the needs of the child. After all, we are caring for them day in and day out.
Please pray for Braelynn and help us stop this litigious nightmare.