3 brothers living in 'filthy' conditions, reunited with Bay Area police officer who rescued them

Three young brothers are now out of the foster care system thanks to distant relatives and the diligence of a Vacaville police officer.

The Lancaster family invited Officer Issac Stevens to be a part of their formal adoption ceremony last week as their family was made whole.

James Lancaster and his wife Mae wanted to share their journey to encourage others to become foster parents.

They adopted three biological brothers that they fostered.

"We were 100% all in right from the time we heard they needed a home," said James.

Three years ago, Vacaville police received a call from the boys' biological mother, who reported that one of her sons had been missing from her apartment.

Officer Stevens, a rookie at the time, decided to do a welfare check. He went to the apartment and described it as being filthy.  

"I was shocked that kids were living in conditions like this," Stevens said. The boys, ages 2,4 and 8 at the time, were left with no adult supervision. The officer said the police department collaborated with Solano County Child Welfare.


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The Lancasters, distant relatives of the children's biological mother, took in the boys.  

"They actually met me here at the police department outside those steps in the middle of the night after the initial call for service," said Stevens.

The Lancasters knew they wanted to keep the three brothers together right from the start. James said growing up in San Francisco with a single mom, he knew the challenges that children can face.

"I grew up in the inner city in the Tenderloin. Anyone that knows the Tenderloin knows that it's not the easiest neighborhood to grow up in," said James. "I felt a duty to these three kids."  

Mae said she's lucky to have the boys.

"It's very rewarding, watching them grow, play sports and do good in school."   

It was a second chance at motherhood after the couple's son was killed more than a decade ago. 

"They've given me life, my life back," said Mae. 

The proud parents said they want to give the boys a happy life and have seen the impact of a stable home.

"One hundred percent. Complete 360, the way they carry themselves. Their confidence," said James.  

Last Friday, the couple officially adopted the boys and invited Stevens to join them for the ceremony at the courthouse.  

"It was something I couldn't imagine three years later," said Stevens.  

The Lancasters said there's a shortage of foster homes and encourage others to open up their hearts.

"At the end, we're trying to raise good citizens, good people," said James.

The couple said this journey has its challenges and that the most important part is just spending time together as a family. What's next? The family is taking a trip to Disneyland.

Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU. Email Amber at Amber.Lee@Fox.com or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU,  Instagram @AmberKTVU  or Twitter @AmberKTVU.