RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Chances are you could not distinguish Mikal, Matthew and Madison from any other kid at a park. But right around Christmas three years ago, their aunt Holli got a call from Child Protective Services.
“They called up and said they had removed them from the home they were in. If I wanted them, I need to get my house in order to CPS standards. So we took about 7 days to meet all that criteria,” says Holli Trulson.
The children are Holli's sister's kids. But with drugs and physical abuse in the home, they needed to find a new place to live. Holli welcomed them with open arms. She would find loving them was the easy part.
The three were not well socialized, their educational level was not well understood, and they were psychologically repressed.
She wanted to adopt all three. But that would all depend upon what Joyce Singer had to say.
“You want to get them out and away from the foster parent to let them be comfortable with you. To let them say stuff that maybe they wouldn't say in front of the foster parent. We went to a lot, I know Chuckie Cheese very well,” says Joyce Singer, a CASA Volunteer.
As a court-appointed special advocate, or CASA, it is Joyce's job to advocate for children in family court. It could be an adoption case like this one. It could be a custody case. It could involve a parent's visitation or access to the child.
Joyce spends time with the kids, talks to them, and then once in the courtroom, she speaks on their behalf.
“She asked the hard questions when she was with them. Things that had to be asked for the court, so they knew what was in the best interest of the children and what they need,” says Holli.
“And one of the things we had been primed for as CASAs is that sometimes what the children want is not necessarily what is best for them. In this case, I was really lucky because it was so clear early on is what they wanted was Holli,” says Joyce.
The process of adopting the kids did not happen overnight. Neither did their transition to happy children and successful students.
Through numerous court hearings, where Joyce was presented at all, Holli eventually was awarded custody and adopted her two nephews and niece, who now know her only as mom.