WASHINGTON (WUSA9) — Even though this Maryland teacher is single, she knew she always wanted to be mother, so she relied on skills of a D.C. non-profit to help her understand the impact that the adoption and foster process can have on a child’s mental health.

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Renee Patrick is now a mother of three. If you step into the Patrick home, you’ll recognize that it is just like any other household with three young children.

Patrick hustles about helping the kids with snacks and finding their lost backpacks. The children get excited to show off their ping pong table and their pet rabbits. While the scene may be very typical, the process to becoming a mother wasn’t.

That’s when Patrick turned to C.A.S.E. The non-profit’s leaders understand the adoption and foster process, but more importantly, how that impacts a child’s mental health.

“As a parent, you can feel like you are in a box where I must be the only one dealing with this but you go to C.A.S.E. and you realize no there’s a lot of people going through this,” Patrick said.

The organization’s CEO Debbie Riley said it’s here to help.

“C.A.S.E. has made an impact that is life changing and long reaching,” Riley said.

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She has helped grow the organization since it started in 1998. It’s now a model resource for national and international foster and adoption families.

For Riley, really understanding the trauma children go through during the process of joining their new family is key. She and her group of trained mental health professionals then teach the adoptive parents the skills they need to better communicate with the children and deal with those issues. It’s those skills that can mean the difference between a child going back into foster care or finding a permanent home.

“It really has helped me build a family and to help my children feel comfortable as an adoptive family,” said Patrick.

Currently, C.A.S.E. serves more than 500 families in the D.C. area. There are waiting lists at all of their facilities. Some families drive two or three hours just to get the support. With more support, C.A.S.E. could open their services to even more parents and children.

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