Kingman, AZ – A Kingman police lieutenant and his wife are now the proud parents of a little girl he met while assisting with a child abuse call over two years ago.
Kingman Police Department (KPD) Lieutenant Brian Zach said he was working as a patrol sergeant in March of 2018, when he was asked to respond to a scene to assist his fellow officers, he told Good Morning America.
When he arrived, he met a little blonde toddler named Kaila.
“I recognized her injuries and what they meant and the abuse that she suffered in different stages,” Lt. Zach told KNXV. “I knew something wasn’t right.”
Lt. Zach took the little girl back to the KPD and spent the next five hours playing games and watching movies with her.
“She didn’t talk a lot – she mostly grunted and pointed at things,” he recalled, according to KNXV.
“We colored, we snacked … she held my hand and she was just this cute little thing,” he told Good Morning America. “Once detectives came, they picked her up and took her to the hospital.”
While Kaila was being treated for multiple injuries caused by physical abuse, for which her caretakers were later charged, Lt. Zach headed home with thoughts of the little girl still tugging at his heart.
“I came home, told my wife the story about this little girl that I just bonded with and would love to bring her home,” he told KNXV. “In the past 15 years, I’ve said that many times to my wife… of some kid that I met that I would love to bring home and love and take care of, so it was nothing new for her.”
But this time, she and Lt. Zach were able to do far more.
He initially contacted the Arizona Department of Child Safety (AZDCS), which by then had taken over custody of Kaila, and asked them for permission to visit her at the hospital, KNXV reported.
The time Lt. Zach spent at the hospital with the toddler over the next several days only strengthened his resolve.
When AZDCS struck out on finding an immediate placement for Kaila, they contacted Lt. Zach and his wife, Cierra, to see if she could temporarily come live with them and their two children, KNXV reported.
“She came with a sippy cup, a bag of clothes that didn’t fit her and that was it,” the lieutenant told Good Morning America.
Kaila became a part of the family almost immediately.
“Within the second day she was calling my wife ‘mom’ or ‘mommy,'” he told Good Morning America. “I was ‘guy’ for a week or two and then when she started preschool, she learned who dad was.”
The next 30 months were filled with ups and downs for the foster family.
“We lived each week not knowing if she was going to go back to her biological parents, or how long we were going to keep her,” Lt. Zach told Good Morning America. “Our goal was to love and care for this little girl for as long as it happened.”
The uncertainty came to an end on Aug. 18, when four-year-old Kaila was officially adopted by Cierra and Lt. Zach at the Mohave County Superior Court in Lake Havasu City, Good Morning America reported.
Today, the tiny survivor enjoys animals, preschool, dancing, and going on imaginative “cruises vacations” in her cardboard box, her parents said.
“She is so comical, she is so witty,” Lt. Zach marveled. “She’s just a character.”
He said he hopes his family’s story might help others to consider becoming foster or adoptive parents for children needing a safe place to call home – an experience he said was “well worth it,” according to Good Morning America.
“She’s definitely thrived and come into her own,” Lt. Zach told KNXV. “I just want to see her succeed in life and [I] hope she has better opportunities and chances now.”
KPD Chief Rusty Cooper said Lt. Zach’s devotion to Kaila epitomizes what it means to be a public servant.
“Lt. Brian Zach’s commitment to public safety is exemplified in his commitment and love for Kaila. Both Brian and his wife Cierra are amazing parents,” Chief Cooper told Good Morning America. “They are committed to the service of others and a cause that is greater than themselves. We are proud of Brian and thankful that he and his family are part of the Kingman Police Department.”
Over 14,000 Arizona children are currently in foster care, with about 1,500 of those children residing in group home settings, KNXV reported.
“There’s not enough homes for all the kids that are in foster care now,” Arizona’s Children’s Association spokesperson Katie Hernandez told the news outlet. “There’s a humongous need right now for foster parents.”