Mary & Keri's Family Support

It seems like fundraising for your birthday is a thing. I have a special ask this year.

 As most of my friends know, my sister and her wife Keri, in addition to their adopted daughter Danyella, have been fostering bio siblings M(3) and J (7). They’ve had M since she was born and her older brother J joined the family two summers ago. Now they are a family of five.

 From the beginning, Mary and Keri knew they wanted to adopt M and J, just as they did Danyella. Things were moving along in that direction until about a year ago when the Department of Children and Families (DCF) changed the children’s goal from adoption to reunification with a relative who lives in another country, does not speak their language, has never met M and had very minimal contact with J.

 Needless to say, Mary, Keri, me and my whole family is devastated by the possibility of losing the two little ones. But we are especially concerned for the toll it would take on the kids. Take for example, 7 year old J. He is currently enrolled in a number of services to help him cope with a history of trauma, abuse, neglect and poorly managed asthma. Surrounded by a care team of school professionals, therapists, specialists, medical providers, and a loving stable home environment, J is learning to manage and express his emotions, thoughts, anxiety and behaviors. Hours and hours each week are dedicated to coordinating his care and services. His needs are great and his path is filled with advances and setbacks.

 If they lose this case, Mary, Keri and J’s therapy team are incredibly concerned that one more major upheaval and disruption (piled onto an already large heap) could severely send J into a downward spiral. All the progress he has made would likely be gone in an instant. And M would be moved to live with a caregiver she has never met and who doesn’t even know her birthday. She would be removed from the only family she has ever known. Finally, Danyella, who does not remember a time before her little sister M, would be absolutely devastated by this loss.

 Many experts (school personnel, adoption social workers, the children’s attorney) disagree with DCF’s plan to send the kids to live with a relative who abandoned them many years ago. Mary and Keri, of course, want their kids to have a relationship with their relatives—phone calls, visits, skype, etc, but, they—along with a cadre of experts—believe moving these children is most definitely not in their best interest. On a personal note, I have grown very close to these two and love them dearly. It would break my heart to see them sent away.

 In addition to all the expenses associated with raising three children, Mary and Keri are now facing compounding legal fees to fight for custody of the kids they love and care for as their own. I hope you’ll consider giving today to help with their legal costs and court fees.

 They were initially quoted legal fees of between $10 - $12,000, but due to many unforeseen circumstances, their costs are already approaching $25,000 and could go even higher. Every small donation can make a difference in the lives of two children who are growing and thriving in a stable, loving home with parents who advocate for their varied and special needs.

 On behalf of my nieces and nephew, thank you for being part of their story, sharing it and spreading love all around us.32229104_153453855718591_r.jpeg
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Organizer and beneficiary

Kathy Belge 
Organizer
Portland, OR
Mary Califano 
Beneficiary
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