by Lester Holmes, Communications Officer, Department of Health and Human Services
Justice has been a fighter for his entire young life. Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, Justice works with rehabilitative professionals and has made strides to improve his motor-functioning skills. Through his sheer will and determination, Justice’s quality of life has increased as well as his independence.
While confidently meeting the challenges of Cerebral Palsy, Justice had significant doubts that he would ever be adopted. After spending 12 years in Cuyahoga County custody, and experiencing multiple placements, heartbreaks and traumas, Justice developed feelings of abandonment and thought himself to be an outcast.
Those feelings started to change due to the involvement of two dedicated professionals. In October 2021, Carol Beck, from Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services, took on his case and was joined with Tyler Gilmore, an adoption recruiter from Caring For Kids, in March 2022. Together, they made remarkable progress in helping Justice gain permanency.
During this time, Justice was placed at NECCO Centers, a secure residential facility for youth with developmental disabilities, mental health, and behavioral challenges. Carol and Tyler prioritized building a strong rapport with Justice, establishing trust, and gradually introducing adoption preparation materials. Despite Justice’s initial misgivings about the adoption process, the bonds of trust developed, particularly as the adoption professionals made sure to reconnect Justice with his half-brother, Luke.
Through that reconnection, Justice began to heal from past family-related trauma and opened his heart to the possibility of having a permanent family placement.
Fate intervened when Joshua, a compassionate individual, inquired about Justice after seeing his profile on an adoption website. Upon receiving information from Carol, Tyler arranged a meeting to assess if Joshua could meet Justice's needs. Their initial conversation paved the way for a formal Adoption Matching Conference, where professionals unanimously agreed that Joshua was a perfect match for Justice.
As the adoption process moved forward, Justice increasingly became open to the idea of adoption and instantly bonded with Joshua as they engaged in virtual visitations with one another regularly. And as fate would have it, Justice affectionately referred to Joshua as his "Dad."
On October 27, 2022, Dad and son would start to live under the same roof as Justice was discharged from NECCO with cheers and celebration from the staff to move in with Joshua as a pre-adoptive placement.
"Now this is my time to shine," said Justice to Carol as he headed for his new life. The transition had an immediate impact on Justice as he thrived at home, in the community and at school. His school principal recognized his positive influence, highlighting his selfless actions, daily positivity, and the joy he brought to those around him. Justice even found employment at a local department store, further embracing his newfound freedom to be himself and continue his journey of self-discovery.
As the adoption was finalized, Justice said he was happy to finally be himself and feel unconditional love.
During the adoption finalization process, Justice said that he felt like he was living a dream and never wanted to wake up. He also likened his life to the movie "Finding Nemo," where Carol and Tyler played the role of helping him find his "Forever Dad," similar to Nemo reuniting with his father in the film.
Justice's heartwarming story serves as a testament to the power of perseverance, dedication, and the essential role each person plays in assisting youth in their quest to find their forever families.