Richardson Family Story


Life was just getting started for newlyweds Bryan and Brianna. They were settling comfortably into their new routines as a married couple, and Brianna was busy getting acquainted with her new job. When they were asked to take their one year old nephew, Cassius, into their home, the decision to say yes came easily to them. Bryan and Brianna wanted stability for Cassius and they had been aware for some time that his parents were struggling and unable to care for him. “We kind of knew he’d be coming, but what we didn’t know was all the stuff that was coming with him.”

When Cassius started going to daycare it quickly became clear that he needed support for his social-emotional skills. He didn’t know how to sit down and play, he spent most of his time alone, and wouldn’t use words during his school day. “He wouldn’t go near anybody.” At home he would become hysterical when the family would laugh or hug, because he had so often seen physical interactions turn to violence. Bryan and Brianna shared their concerns with his social worker who referred them to the HopeSparks Early Childhood Intervention program. “We didn’t know what we were doing. We just knew we wanted him to be okay.”

Through support from HopeSparks, Cassius slowly started to let his guard down and open up to other children at school. He received Early Childhood Intervention services to build his play skills and to strengthen his relationship with Bryan and Brianna. Over time, he built trust with them and was able to accept and offer affection freely. “We really all started to bond once he was able to relax.” Today, Bryan and Brianna have officially adopted Cassius and his younger sister, and they’ve used the skills they learned while Cassius was in the early intervention program to help his sister with the transition as well. No day is complete for them without plenty of hugs, which is a huge relief for both Brianna and Bryan. “I was afraid that I’d never get to hug him the way a father hugs a son. Now we’re all about ‘family hug’.”