Rose and her husband, Daniel, began caring for their nephew, Michael, when he was 5. His mother, who struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, decided he would be safer in their care. His father was never involved in his life. Rose and Daniel became licensed foster parents to care for Michael. This provided the critical financial and professional help he desperately needed. Rose knew that Michael and his mother loved each other very much. She made sure Michael had regular visits with his mother. She knows Michael cherished these visits because he would ask, “What time is my mommy coming?” and sit by the locked screen door and wait.
Eventually, Rose was able to join a California program called KinGAP. It is a subsidized guardianship program that helped Michael leave state custody to become a permanent part of Rose and Daniel’s family without terminating all his mother’s rights, which adoption requires. In 2002, Michael’s mother died. After her death, Rose spoke to Michael about his last name. When he was born he was given last name of his mother’s then partner. Rose asked him if he wanted to be adopted and take her family name as his last name. Michael said that he loved Rose and Daniel very much, but asked that his name be changed instead to that of his mother so he would always have a connection to her. Rose continues to care for Michael as his permanent guardian while he keeps the valuable connection to his mother’s memory, and he will soon also wear her name with pride.
Rose, Daniel and Michael are fortunate to have a subsidized guardianship program like KinGAP available in their state of California. Many other states do not have similar programs. As a result many children are languishing in foster care because their relatives do not have the resources to care for them.