January 8, 2016, was a life-altering day for Jessica and her family, when a serious traffic accident left her confined to a wheelchair. Her 2-1/2-year-old son, Nikko, was placed into foster care while she began a long, painful journey of rehabilitation.

“Jessica is one of the most capable moms I’ve ever met,” recalls Katelyn Goodrich, Hillside Care Coordinator. Goodrich understood the importance of finding an appropriate foster family for Nikko, whose diagnosis of apraxia was known to present speech and communication challenges. But she also shared the same goal as Jessica, to eventually help reunite mother and son.

“Hearing Jessica’s story really hit me hard,” recalls Penny, a foster parent who shares Hillside’s view of foster care as a path to family reunifications whenever possible. “I knew Nikko needed to be home with his mom.”

As part of the Hillside foster care team, Goodrich provided Penny with support and guidance in caring for Nikko, while encouraging regular communications between the two moms, helping them navigate court appearances and paperwork, and celebrating every success with them along the way.

“Katelyn walked me through every step of the process and let me know what I needed to do and what the courts expected of me,” Jessica reflects today. And she maintained a strong ongoing connection with her son, as well as with Penny: the two women “started talking and texting, and building a great relationship,” she says.

“It was a partnership,” Penny agrees.

In February 2021, 8-year-old Nikko returned to live happily with his biological mom—and today, their relationship with Penny continues through frequent visits. “I hope to continue to watch Nikko grow, and be a part of their lives,” Penny says.

Both women credit Hillside for helping to create a relationship that strengthened a family for life.

Hundreds of children in your community are in need of stable, caring families who can provide a loving home as part of Hillside’s foster care network. Learn more today.

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