Outgoing, clever, insightful, funny – that’s how Kenny Pegram describes his son, 7-year-old *Darren. But when Darren first came into foster care at age 4, these wonderful qualities were nowhere in sight. His Children’s Law Center attorney, Megan Conway, remembers that Darren was clingy and would hug strangers, sometimes calling them Mommy or Daddy.
Darren was also a bundle of energy at school. He frequently ran out of his classroom and once made it across the street and into a corner store before his teacher could catch him.
As soon as a judge appointed Conway to represent Darren, she sprung into action, using every tool available. She reviewed Darren’s school and medical records, teamed with his social worker, filed motions to expedite his access to counseling and other supports, and pulled in another Children’s Law Center lawyer, D.D. Davis, to address his learning needs.
But Conway knew that all her work to give Darren the right education and mental health supports would only take him so far. She needed to fill the big emotional hole in Darren’s heart.
That’s where Pegram came in. Conway advocated that Darren be placed with a foster family that could adopt him and, luckily, Pegram was available.
Darren has flourished in his care. Conway says Pegram has become “a solid, stable rock” for Darren and recalls a social worker describing him as Darren’s “emotional safe space.”
Pegram had all the love in the world to share with Darren, but he wasn’t sure how to fight for Darren at school. So Conway and Davis included him at every step as they advocated for play therapy, requested a psychiatric evaluation, developed an individualized education plan and worked to get Darren a dedicated aide during the school day.
Not only did the extra support help Darren, but along the way Conway and Davis taught Pegram how to be a first-rate advocate for his son. Recently, when Darren misbehaved at his after-school program, Pegram put the strategies he learned from Children’s Law Center into practice. “I had to give them different alternatives as to how they might have to handle him because, no, we’re not going to blame the 7-year-old,” Pegram says. His advocacy worked. Staff changes were made and now things are running smoothly.
But even as Darren learned to trust Pegram, he still missed his mother and worried he would never see her again. Pegram told Darren his mother would always be part of their family, saying “I can’t wait to meet your mom and give her a big, old hug.” And he made good on that promise. Today, Darren visits with his mother, knowing he can love her while coming to understand that she can’t provide the safety and security of his “rock.”
Pegram’s adoption of Darren was finalized on National Adoption Day. Looking ahead, Pegram sees a future in which Darren can put his clever mind to use. But, whatever path Darren chooses, Pegram knows he will grow up with no doubt about one thing: “He will always know that I’m here for him and my family’s here for him.”
*We work hard to protect the confidentiality of our clients. That's why Darren's name has been changed. All other details are true.