KANSAS CITY, Mo. - An 11-year-old Johnson County girl spent her first night out of the state foster care system Monday. For the first time, Katie is in a home with a family she will have forever due to the dedication and care of one volunteer.
Monday afternoon at the Johnson County Courthouse, Katie was bubbling with excitement as she waited for Judge Kathleen Sloan to give her a special gift in her courtroom.
"I have wished for this my whole life and it's finally coming true," she said.
Monday, Katie's foster parents of nine months legally adopted her.
"Nobody can take her, she's ours," Cheryl, Katie's adoptive mother, said.
Katie spent most of her 11 years shuffling from one home to the next.
"It was really tough because I didn't know which home would take me in or not," Katie said.
Two and half years ago, Katie met Karen Green, a Court Appointed Special Advocate who volunteers to help abused and neglected kids in Johnson County.
"Karen for me, she was like a best friend through the whole thing. She helped me out and everything and it really meant a lot," said Katie.
CASA volunteers advocate for the best interest of the kids under court protection. Through contact with the child and family members, CASA volunteers provide critical information to the judge so the best decision can be made regarding where the child should live.
"There are more kids out there that need somebody that is going to stay with them through all the transitions and know that they're going to be with them regardless of what's going on," Green said.
During that time, Katie lived down the street from a family who provided her with day care. While there, she formed a close bond with Cheryl, the daycare provider. But eventually it was time for Katie to move on to another foster home.
"I hugged Karen and I was balling and I said, ‘I would adopt that child in a heartbeat if they'd let me,'" Cheryl said.
Through Karen Green's care and commitment, Cheryl's dream came true on Nov. 25, 2013.
"It's been a rough life and I really like being with this family because it makes me feel like I'm not going to move. This family actually cares about me," Katie said.