BASEHOR, Kan. — A Kansas teen is celebrating a new start at life. After two failed adoptions, he’s found his parents. He said his court-appointed advocate helped him get there.
Despite 10 years in the foster care system, too many moves to count, and his former adoptions — 15-year-old Jacob is one of the most positive kids you will ever meet. His new parents say without his advocate he wouldn’t be where he is today.
Jacob loves to build Legos, play video games, and is fascinated by cars. This teenage creative has a heart for adventure.
“What makes you the happiest?” FOX4’s Sherae Honeycutt asked him.
“Having a loving family,” Jacob said.
Even though he spent much of his life in foster care, Jacob did his best to be positive.
“Some homes were good and some were bad,” Jacob said.
Through it all he had Ballard Yates, his court appointed special advocate (CASA) by his side. Yates became a CASA in 2008 when he felt a calling to help children in need.
In that time he’s had nearly 30 cases. Each case was either an individual child or a group of siblings. CASA of Johnson & Wyandotte Counties says Yates is one of their star advocates.
A CASA is the voice of a foster child in the court system. They are volunteers who are trained through the organization and become sworn members of the court. They are sometimes the most constant person in a foster child’s life. Despite having foster parents, social workers, teachers, and more — a CASA stays with that child throughout their time in the foster care system.
They help the child not only have a voice in the courts but ensure the child gets the resources they need. This could mean making sure they get tutoring, guidance, therapy, and much more.
“Knowing where he came from what he had to put up with and how he kept that positive mental attitude always looking for a forever home,” Yates said.
He saw him through continuous moves, and two failed adoptions.
“After those couple times it really started getting to me. I was like, I wish I could finally find a home I want to be in. I’ve been wishing and crossing my fingers to find a home I always wanted to go to,” Jacob said.
In 2020, He met Tim and Beth Shelley.
“We don’t have our own biological kids and we always knew that we would have a family. When that didn’t happen, we went to adopt,” Beth said.
She said from the moment they met Jacob they found their son
“Oh my gosh, my whole entire heart exploded,” Shelley said. ” When we learned what he had been through, Tim and I, we refused to be the next people to let Jacob down. We knew regardless of the situation that was where we were going to land.”
The pair decided Jacob was part of their family and told him he was being adopted.
“Three times a charm. I was hoping this would finally work. I was telling myself let’s see what happens and we’ll go from there,” Jacob said.
“When we got the official court date, we surprised him with it and I think that’s the biggest smile I’ve seen on his face. The biggest hug we’ve gotten from Jacob was that day as well,” Shelley said.
Beth said despite all Jacob has been through Ballard was his guiding light.
“If it had not been for Ballard being with Jacob for all of those years, he would not have that positive attitude that he did,” Shelley said.
Now the entire Shelley family can focus on the future.
“He has a bright future. He does,” Shelley said.
“He’s only 15 years old. I’d like to see what the next 15 years; the next 30 years bring for Jacob,” Yates said.
“I feel like if I didn’t have him I wouldn’t be who I am today because I’m so happy after all these years and he’s still showing me who I should be and helping me through those hard times,” Jacob said.
Jacob’s mom said adoption was a blessing for them and she hopes others take the leap.
“If there’s even a shadow of a doubt in their minds that they want to do that – do it. It is the most rewarding and heart filling experience I have ever witnessed in my entire life,” Shelley said.
Now Jacob is focusing on learning to drive, being on the honor roll and graduating high school. He would love to find something in the future that allows him to travel.
Interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent in Missouri?
- Cornerstones of Care specializes in Standard and Career Foster Licenses at 1-855-SRV-KIDS (855-778-5437) or visit their website.
- Crittenton Children’s Center (Saint Lukes) focuses on medical homes, homes that can accommodate sibling groups, and homes for older youth (age 12 and up).
- If you are interested in learning more about this organization please reach out to Virginia Fatseas at (816) 986-5209
- Missouri Alliance offers elevated needs training (Level A & B) to our Resource Families. They also train our foster parents in TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) as well as SOS (Signs of Safety).
- If you are interested in learning more about this organization please reach out to Karie Scott-Roark email: KRoark@MA-CF.org.
- Great Circle Behavioral Health for Children & Families does foster care licensing for prospective foster parents.
- If you are interested in learning more about this organization please reach out to Jaqueline Brown at (816) 255-1503 or Jacqueline.Brown@greatcircle.org
Interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent in Kansas?
- KVC Kansas
- To become an adoptive parent you can find more information by calling (888) 655-5500.
- To become a foster parent you can sign up for a class or learn more through their website.
- Cornerstones of Care
- To become an adoptive or foster parent you can contact Denise Gibson at (913) 209-5923 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to see more children who are looking for a family?
Want to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for foster children in the metro?
According to CASA’s website, a court appointed special advocate make a life-changing different for children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Each volunteer is appointed by a judge to advocate for a child’s best interest in court.
Their volunteers help judges develop a fuller picture of each child’s life. Their advocacy enables judges to make the most well-informed decision for each child.
- Jackson County CASA
- Clay County CASA: To volunteer with Clay County CASA, contact the Program Director, Ashley Zugelter, at 816-736-8400 or email email@example.com.
- CASA of Lafayette & Saline Counties: To volunteer with 15th Judicial Circuit CASA, contact the Executive Director, Robin McGinnity Connelly, at 660-259-2590 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit their Facebook page.
- CASA of Wyandotte & Johnson Counties
- CASA of Atchison & Leavenworth Counties: To volunteer contact the Executive Director, Kelly Meyer, at (913) 651-6440 or email her at Lv1casa@sbcglobal.net.
- Douglas County CASA: To volunteer contact the Executive Director, Diana Frederick, at (785) 832-5172 or email her at email@example.com.