This is a story about a little boy named Charlie, born in 2015 and soon diagnosed with nephrotic childhood syndrome (severe damage of the kidneys) inherited from both parents. As a result, both of his kidneys had to be removed during surgery performed in May 2016.
Two months later, CASA of Franklin County was assigned as his Guardian Ad Litem in July 2016 when he was ready to be released from the hospital and his parents had not learned to manage his complex needs. This began a months-long struggle for our volunteer Guardian ad Litem to help the parents learn to care for him and regain custody. Complicating all of this was the reality that because Charlie wasn’t in a permanent home but in Foster Care, he could not be placed on a kidney transplant list.
After repeated intervention and efforts to help, Charlie’s parents consistently failed to remedy the problems that caused him to be placed outside their home and their parental rights were ended.
Then, in December 2017, permanent court custody of Charlie was granted to his Foster Parents of 18 months and Nationwide Children’s Hospital was, at last, able to place Charlie on the kidney transplant list. The couple had already raised a family of their own, but knowing Charlie’s desperate condition and having had other special needs children in their care, Charlie’s new parents opened wide their hearts and home to him. But that wasn’t all. At the adoption hearing, no less than 20 of Charlie’s new, extended family attended, including his new parents’ biological daughter who will take custody of him as well as another special needs child her parents have adopted, if anything should happen to her Mom and Dad.
Charlie is now surrounded by the safety and love of a forever family.
“In all my years as a CASA/GAL I have never experienced an entire family’s involvement and love for a child. He is truly cherished by them all.” Joanne Sheely, CASA GAL