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Advocate Impact - Shari Gaiennie

Shari has been a CASA Advocate since March 2015.  Her current case, which began in April 2016, has four sisters who came into care due to allegations of physical abuse by their adoptive parents. The injuries were specific to the third child, Lori who was born with Spinal Bifida, a missing finger on one hand, only one kidney, and bowel problems that required her to wear pull-ups at the age of 6 years old. All four girls were given multiple diagnosis including Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Dysthymia, Expressive Language Disorder and other Acute reactions to stress.

During the course of the case, the adoptive parents teetered back and forth on whether or not they wanted Lori back. They had decided to parcel out the other three girls once the girls were reunified but openly stated that they didn’t want Lori back “the way she was.”

Initially, all four girls were in the same placement and Shari made frequent visits to the shelter to see them.  She brought them to a CASA Art and Soul event and took them to the zoo.  She spoke with their teachers and determined that there was a breakdown in communication between the girls’ placement and school.  Shari attended school meetings to include Admissions Review and Dismissals (ARDs) and had follow up meetings with teachers and caregivers regarding the progress of the children.  Shari also assisted with transportation of the girls to their medical appointments and psychological evaluations. 

Eventually the girls were separated into three different placements. Shari made sure that the relative placements arranged for services to start in their homes. She established sibling visits for the girls to maintain contact with each other.

The parents completed their services and had a therapeutic recommendation supporting reunification. However, the parents continued to deny that they had any role/responsibility for the physical abuse of Lori.  Furthermore, they could not decide if they wanted Lori back in their home.  Shari strongly advocated that Lori remain in state care while her sisters were returned to their adoptive parents. While the other siblings were reunified, Shari continued to schedule sibling visits so all the girls could spend time together; separate from the parent/child visits Lori was having.

Shari was able to locate Paternal Grandparents and other relatives of the biological father whose parental rights had been terminated. With approval, she began arranging visitation between Lori and Paternal relatives. This was important for Lori because she was aware that she was not going to be with her sisters. Eventually, sibling visits were stopped as they were proving too traumatic for Lori’s emotional well-being.

Once parental rights were severed for the adoptive parents and Lori, Shari located her father who is temporarily living and working in California.  She was instrumental in helping to facilitate communication between him and CPS in an effort to have him looked at as a potential future placement for Lori.  He attended the most recent court hearing and was asked to complete some services to include a drug test and hair follicle test.  His permanent home is in Oklahoma and once he is back there, the process to consider placement will commence. 

Shari has had a positive impact on this case and has been instrumental in making sure that these siblings continue to have a close bond and a solid relationship.   Thank you Shari for your advocacy on behalf of the girls!