by Ivy Pittman
It must be said. With the election of President Barack Obama and his call for commitment to service, we should all become involved on some level with an organization or a cause that speaks to our heart. If not now, when?
In 2006 one such organization spoke to me. After several months of seeing a public service commercial featuring an elderly man reading a letter written by a ten-year old in which the boy says, “I don’t think anyone cares about me,” I knew I had to get involved. My tears finally led me to call and commit to becoming an advocate for abused and neglected
children. The organization, CASA, (Court Appointed Special Advocates) has been committed to protecting and serving abused and neglected children since 1977.
Even after several weeks of training I still did not feel prepared to take on the detailed aspects of a case that would affect the outcome of a child’s life. But from the moment I laid eyes on six-month old Jacqueline, (not her real name) I knew I would work tirelessly to do everything I was sworn to do to ensure she was adopted by her loving grandparents. For
nearly two years I learned the ups and downs of the legal system. I listened to the frustrations Jacqueline’s grandmother, herself well-experienced in dealing with a bureaucracy riddled with cracks. How do you tell someone, “Everything is going to be alright,” when you don’t even know if and when it will be? Throughout those eighteen months it took for Jacqueline to be adopted by her grandparents, I grew very close to the family and to Jacqueline. I held her, played with her, and was just as excited as her grandmother was when she started walking and talking. Finally the day came for Jacqueline’s adoption. Inside of the judge’s chambers were her grandparents and other relatives carrying balloons and a big card which read, “To Jacqueline’s new life.” Holding her on my lap I couldn’t help but wonder if one day she would realize just how fortunate she was for this to happen. I hugged her because I was so happy for her.
Unfortunately, for many, this will never happen.
Unlike Jacqueline, there are thousands of children in foster homes and shelters who do not have relatives willing or able to adopt them. For them, it must be a pain and longing that I can only imagine. They wait and hope that someone will see something special in them and want to take them home. While we may not be in the position to become foster parents or
to adopt a child, there are countless other ways we can give of our time to our most precious resources – our children. Clearly there are challenges and frustrations dealing with the child welfare maze. But there is a strong sense of purpose, pride, and satisfaction that comes with knowing that you are providing a service on behalf of a child.
My little Jacqueline holds a special place in my heart. As her grandmother reminds me, I am now a part their family. To the best of relationships and service, I say go for it!