Updated: Aug 4, 2020
When I came into foster care, I was only 7 and was the oldest of my 5 siblings. We were all separated across the state, which I hated because I felt like their protector. I grew up in foster care, and my parents’ rights to me were finally terminated when I was 10. I started getting into trouble around that time, and I was assigned a CASA volunteer. My CASA took me out to eat sometimes and got to know me. She came to wherever I was placed – sometimes more than 2 hours away. She brought me things I needed and gifts for special occasions.
I told my CASA everything. Sometimes, it was a cry for help in my own way. Sometimes, it was just nice to have someone in my life that cared about me and I could tell things to. Sometimes, it was a test to see if she’d abandon me too, but she never did.
I ran away several times during my stay in foster care, but I always stayed connected to my CASA even if only through social media. She never threatened me with calling the cops or told me she was angry with me. Instead, she would ask if I was safe, and if I would let her come get me. I always appreciated that, and she would always come get me wherever I was if I asked her to. My CASA helped me find courage to report my own exploitation and when I was sexually assaulted again, she was the only one with me at the hospital. I had 8 therapists and countless social workers while I was in foster care. I had ONE CASA. My CASA was at my high school graduation. They were both proud of me, and I was proud of myself – I graduated a year early. My CASA helped me see a future for myself and took me to college campus tours. When I wanted to choose a college based on my friends’ decisions, she encouraged me to think about my own success and how this decision will affect me long-term. Ultimately, I chose a college that fit my dreams for my future. My CASA took me to enrollment. And when my placement was not allowing me to stay on campus to do work or allowing me to use a laptop at home, my CASA fought for that to change.
When my siblings were adopted, my CASA picked me up and took me to the adoption. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was a life-changing experience because meeting their adoptive parents meant I could have a relationship with my siblings forever. I’m now in my 20s and I still have a relationship with my CASA. Sometimes, she feels like another mom but I’m thankful that she’s in my life.