In February of 2011 I started the Advocacy class for CASA of Williamson County. It was an intensive two month training. Background checks and self assessments completed, I graduated in March 2011. I was very excited to be a part of this organization.
I’ve always been passionate about making a difference especially concerning children. If you would have asked me back then what this adventure was going to look like, I would have answered very differently. The idea I had in my head was to help young children or a child to get through adjustments in their family and eventually be reunited. The case would take one, to one and a half years. I would wrap everything up nicely and move on to the next case.
That is not how my case went at all. As a matter of fact, it’s been almost 3 years and I am still on my first case. Do I regret it? Absolutely not! I have learned so much through this process. My CASA kid has taught me so much; strength, resiliency, courage to name a few.
Here’s where the secret life comes in…due to the legality of the situation, I was sworn to protect the identity of my kid. I cannot share specific details or even a name. For three years I have kept a piece of my life secret to family and friends, only offering that I am a part of the CASA organization. That has been hard for me because there are times where I really wanted to share how wonderful this kid is. Not speaking her name almost seemed disrespectful but it was necessary not to mention.
I have spent 3-10 hours a month with her depending upon my schedule and hers. There were many twists and turns in this case. My deepest wish for her when I began this case is that everything would work out where she could go home. That was not what happened though. We were very close to that point and for reasons I cannot mention, it did not happen for her. It broke my heart.
When we realized that her options were limited to outside adoption or foster care we began to look for families. This option did not pan out either. She continued in a group home that turned out to be the best thing for her. It certainly was not my first choice for her because I wanted her to have a sense of normalcy in a family setting. In spite of the obstacles placed in this child’s way, she continued to work through many issues. She stretched and grew at a very fast rate. There were ups and downs and it was hard to be the CASA. I began to develop a deep sense of kinship with this child. It is not recommended to become so emotionally attached as a CASA because you have a job to do. This case however was not a normal case and my kid didn’t have anyone to fall back on as far as family. Her group home, support staff, and legal advocates became her family.
Three years ago, she never thought she would see the day that she turned 18 where she could make choices for herself. Not only is that day quickly approaching but she has successfully graduated high school. I am so very proud of her. I would love to share so much more about this kid but I made a promise that I must keep. What I can tell you is that I feel I have learned far more from her than she has from me. I’ve learned that life can throw some pretty hard punches and some people just get back up, dust off their clothes and do their best to move forward. That is my CASA kid. It has been an unexpected ride but the adventure is completely worth it!