After completing training as a CASA volunteer and several weeks after being sworn in, I
received a call for my first assignment. I agreed to become an advocate for an infant girl born addicted to opioids and who had been abandoned at the hospital. I was not aware at the time that the beginning of my advocacy with Amy* would become an almost 3-year journey. Four days before Christmas, she was placed in foster care. Two days before Christmas, I participated in my first adjudication hearing with my CASA coordinator. Amy was placed with a foster family in a nearby community as no potential relatives had been identified for placement.
I grew in my role as a CASA along with Amy. As a newborn, Amy was gaining weight, and eating and sleeping well. I visited Amy monthly at her home and her daycare. I got to know and build a rapport with her foster parents, the other siblings in the home, and a community that fell in love with Amy. I attending team meetings, medical appointments, speech therapy, reviewed CCFA reports, attempted to reach her biological parents, talked with maternal relatives, and attending court hearings. Along the way as Amy began to show delays in her developmental milestone’s referrals went out to Babies Can’t Wait. Special instruction and therapy services followed and Amy made significant progress with speech and feeding services.
Despite numerous conversations with maternal family members, a kin placement was not able to be located. Amy’s foster family had not initially planned to adopt, but they had fell in love with her and she with them. It was a delight to see Amy ‘s eyes light up whenever her foster father entered the room, and her siblings become her protector.
I watched Amy grow from an abandoned infant to a beloved child. I entered her daycare class last week for a visit. She broke into a big smile, ran up to me and threw her arms around me for a hug. She then proceeded to tell me all about her new unicorn shirt and that Mama was at home and Daddy at work. A casual observer would never know Amy had a rough start in life. Now she is a typical 2 ½ year old that is about to be adopted by the only family she has ever known. And I’m the lucky CASA volunteer that got to be a part of this story which has been worth the almost 3-year journey.
*Name has been changed to protect child’s privacy.