CLC's 25th Year Anniversary Banner


At last, a family

At 19 years old Jimmy is about to get what he’s always wanted — a family

He entered the family court system simply as “Baby Boy.” Even before he was given a legal name it was clear Jimmy would need a level of support and advocacy that his parents could not provide.

Over the next 19 years, Jimmy would move from foster care to group homes and back again countless times. Two promising pre-adoptive homes ultimately fell through.

Eliza quickly developed a relationship with Jimmy and understood that his goal was to be adopted and “have a family and be normal,” as he put it.

When Eliza Doolittle, a social worker at The Children’s Law Center, took on his case, she found him living in a group home in upstate New York feeling dejected, yet still holding out hope that he would someday be a part of a family.

You’re not alone

The agencies and partners who were charged with caring for Jimmy pushed for him to live independently — after all he was a young adult. But Eliza heard him. And she made sure his voice was heard. He wasn’t ready to be on his own.

Growing up in the system, Jimmy wasn’t able to pick up all the skills parents tend to teach their teenagers. How do I get an ID or open a bank account? What’s the best way to handle an issue with a friend or roommate? Eliza started to fill that void. Jimmy called her, not just to talk about his case, but when he had trouble logging into Google Classrooms for school.

“The process of growing up is a struggle and there’s always an element of confusion or feeling lost,” Eliza said. “But the kids we work with see significantly more of this.”

“When I’m working with a client, I focus on how I can make the space we’re in - that moment in time - safe; how I can make this space consistent,” she continued. “The world can be uncertain and frightening and sometimes kids just need to know that someone is paying attention.”

A forever family

Eliza coordinated across agencies, lawyers and caregivers. She approached the case with the energy that she would do whatever needed to be done to ensure Jimmy had an ally and an advocate. He was not going to fall through the cracks again.

Today, Jimmy is preparing to move in with his adoptive mother, a woman who has a large network of foster and adoptive children, along with biological family. It’s the family Jimmy has awaited for 19 years.

Happy Teen teen in park

teens with friends

“There’s no Hollywood ending in many of our cases,” said Eliza. “You see kids in situations with a lot of adversity, strife and struggle. But you also see the ways they grow, learn and show thoughtfulness. Kids can be profound.”  

Learn more about how you can support CLC

The children illustrated are not CLC clients and client's name have been changed to maintain the privacy of the parties.

Back to stories button

Employee Portal
The Children's Law Center