Brothers Jacob (age 12) and Lucas (age 8) are in foster care after being physically abused and exposed to domestic violence and drug use. Lucas, the younger brother, disclosed that his mother and her boyfriend forced him to smoke marijuana.
This week was pretty quiet. Well, it was quiet for my CASA case because I’ve been extremely busy with work and with personal commitments which always makes me feel a little guilty. It’s that internal critic that many of us have that sits on your shoulder and whispers, “Are you really going to read? You should be doing laundry or spending time researching how mental disorders affect children so you will be a better advocate for your CASA kid.”
Tara, only two years old, has spent the last nine months in foster care. She was born to a teenage mother, and her father’s identity was never confirmed. Tara’s mother had been a foster child herself with parents who had abused drugs.
And it was frustrating. But it reminded me why I volunteer.
Caden, a 3-year-old Autistic child, came into foster care because his parents were addicted to drugs and not keeping him safe. Caden’s father began services and wanted to get his child back. The DHS case worker was not in favor of a return home to dad at any point in the case.
So far, both of my initial court reports have made me feel uncomfortable. I feel like I never had enough time to get all the information I need to put together a report based on my own research. It’s a challenge when you’re piecing together second hand information from a variety of resources. Most of the information is extremely helpful and accurate. However, there are questions you want answered, timelines you need to verify and people you need to interview, but you can’t because there is not enough time and the report is due.
Ian and Alexander, ages 2 and 4, have been adopted together by a relative after spending most of their lives as foster children in her care. The boys’ mother came from a family with a long history of drug abuse, and she struggled with addiction herself. She left drug treatment programs multiple times without completing them, and was arrested for prostitution. The boys’ father was in jail. Although things began to look promising when he was released – he enrolled in community college and started visiting Ian and Alexander regularly – the father soon fell back into drugs and returned to jail.
It’s hard to keep track of the many attributes that make an appropriate CASA volunteer because it really depends on the case, the volunteer and the dynamic between the two. But patience and flexibility are the two that helped me stay focused on the big picture today.
Sometimes it seems like everyone you want to meet with is available at the same time, in my case, everyone was available this week. I was a little worried that everyone would want to meet at 9 a.m. on Thursday morning but I lucked out. Even though I’ll be racing from one meeting to another almost every day this week, there are no scheduling conflicts, and for that, I am grateful. I’m looking forward to meeting with one of my CASA kids’ counselors, their parents and a number of other people who are heavily involved in this case. As busy and this week will be, I’m extremely excited.