|Finally a family
By CANDY REAGAN /
Abilene Families Editor
Cassey and Cayla Overton became foster parents for one simple reason.
They wanted children.
“We can’t have kids of our own, so we checked into (agency) adoption, but it’s thousands of thousands of dollars,” Cayla said. “So we started off as foster parents.”
Foster families with Child Protective Services can sometimes adopt their foster children if the children’s parents decide to give up their rights or if the courts terminate rights. The Overtons took in siblings Jaycee and Patrick in hopes that they would eventually be able to adopt them.
Cayla said they loved the children “from the second we met them.”
But their birth mother was not immediately willing to give up her rights.
“Their mother had not been terminated, or their dad,” Cayla said. “They wanted to meet us. So we met them. The dad signed right away, but she didn’t.”
So the Overtons patiently took the children to weekly meetings with their mother – meetings that greatly affected their behavior at home and at school.
“Every week when you have a visit, it takes three or four days to get them back to normal,” Cayla said. “Even the teachers could see it. They say that all foster kids do that.”
Then the Overtons’ worst nightmare came true. The courts decided the children needed to go back to their mother.
“It was like death,” Cayla said. “It was a horrible situation.”
The Overtons went to deliver some Christmas presents to the children and were dismayed at what they found. Patrick had no glasses – they had broken several weeks before and no one bothered to replace them, even though he was on Medicaid. Patrick had a black eye; the house was filled with cigarette smoke, and when Jaycee invited Cayla to see her bedroom, Cayla found a room with a broken window (in 20-degree weather) and broken glass all over the floor.
The Overtons immediately called the Child Abuse Hotline, and the children were returned to them almost immediately. Eventually, their mother tired of the weekly visits and agreed to terminate her rights.
“When we went to court, we explained the best we could that their name was going to be Overton now,” Cayla said. “They went to school and told everyone. We told (their mother) that we would still let her see them. But they don’t ask to see her. There is no emotional bond.”
The Overtons also are fostering an infant, who they hope to adopt as soon as the mother’s rights are terminated. They have had the girl since she was born.
“I just started feeling like we missed out on having a baby,” Cayla said. “I conned Cassey, but the minute he saw her, he fell in love. We’d just die if we had to give her back.”
The baby was born with marijuana in her system but does not seem to have suffered any health problems because of it. And Jaycee and Patrick are happy, thriving children despite the trauma they have endured.
The Overtons have had to teach the children right and wrong because they were exposed to horrible language and even sex. Patrick came to them with a vocabulary full of four-letter words, Cayla said.
“When we first got them, Patrick flipped off the preacher,” she said.
The Overtons also have had to adjust to the rules and regulations that come with being foster parents – rules such as getting a judge’s permission to leave the state (a problem at vacation time) and not being able to own a trampoline (a disappointment for the kids.)
Those rules are gone now that they have adopted Jaycee and Patrick but still must be followed for their third child. They also must take the baby once a week out of town to visit her mother and must endure regular inspections from CPS.
But the few drawbacks are worth it, Cayla said. By adopting through CPS, the Overtons only had to pay for court costs and the lawyer costs, much less than paying an adoption agency. And they have provided a family for three children in very bad situations.
“The sad part about the whole thing is there are kids all over the place who are in foster care, and they will be in foster care until they are 18 because no one will adopt them,” Cayla said. “I think that’s so sad. People tell us all the time that there’s going to be a special place in heaven for you for doing this, but that’s not why we did it.”
“We just wanted kids.”