People volunteer for many different reasons, whether it be to gain experience for a job, community service, group projects, to fill a void in their lives, to try something new, or simply, because they truly want to help others to make a difference.
On Oct. 18, 2016, a difference was made in a family’s life and a very special CASA advocate was a part of it. After spending 1,269 days in foster care, little Nathan was finally adopted by his forever family! His advocate, Edna Fazenbaker, of Bridgeton, was right by his side, cheering and, without a doubt, shedding the happiest of tears. It’s been a long road.
In June, 2015, CASA of CGS gained a group of new volunteers, one being Edna Fazenbaker. Strong-willed, smart, and kind, you can’t help but fall in love with her determination. After sitting down with Edna, she explained her desire to volunteer, “I work with the youth group at my church. I know that children need a voice, and a great deal of support. There are many kinds of abuse – verbal, physical to name a few. Most people are uneducated and they need help with parenting skills. CASA interested me because a person could take their time and read reports and make decisions that the court might accept, thereby changing a child life.”
On Sept. 30, 2015, Edna received the assignment for Nathan’s case. His father was in prison and his mother had a reoccurring substance abuse issue. Edna’s love for Nathan and his resource family grew, as did their love for Edna.
Nathan’s forever mom, Rachel, spoke candidly about Edna and the impact having a CASA advocate had on Nathan’s case, “Nathan’s case had been up and down and all around. I had prayed and prayed that a CASA worker would be assigned. Two days before we met Edna, I poured my heart out to God. Literally I prayed that someone would truly step in and advocate truly for Nathan. I had just watched the movie “War Room” and decided he needed someone to battle for him with prayer. So I was on my knees praying…..I had no idea that a CASA had been assigned at that point, but two days later, Edna came knocking at my door at around 9 a.m. and said ‘Hello, I am Nathan’s CASA worker.’ From that moment on, everything changed. She looked at every aspect of his case with a boldness like no other, faced adversity and truly fought for Nathan! Having a CASA on his case made all the difference!”
One of the family’s fondest memories is when Edna came over the summer and brought all of the kids fun things to dress up with. Rachel beams when she talks about her experience with Edna, “She’s such a special soul. My children all adore her and she always made a point to love on every single one of them.”
Edna’s journey as Nathan’s advocate hasn’t always been easy and she faced her fair share of frustrations. Her biggest fear was that Nathan’s plan for adoption would take longer than necessary and her little boy would continue to face the emotional turmoil as a result. During an August court hearing, the judge asked Edna if she had any concerns. She replied, “Yes, I have sat here all day and heard about children of all ages still in the system. I want this 3 year old child to be adopted into a loving family and not be in the system.” She visited her CASA child every other week, sometimes weekly, while also making every effort to reach out to all of the parties involved with the case, including the biological father who was incarcerated. Edna truly left no stone unturned to make sure her little Nathan received the greatest happy ending possible.
When Edna was asked about what her favorite part of this case was, she replied, “Several things excited me! I loved meeting the families,the grandparents and seeing my case completed with a wonderful adoption.”
On Oct. 18, 2016, her wish came true, Nathan’s case completed with a wonderful adoption. There were over 50 friends and family all dressed up in their superhero best to celebrate his special day at court. Even Nathan’s aunt, who is a missionary in Panama, was able to participate via FaceTime. Nathan’s journey has been long and hard, but, because of the blessings placed in his life – his family, his CASA – he is home, he is safe, and he is loved.