My CASA Experience
CASA of Southeast Texas, Beaumont
I remember looking forward to the swearing-in ceremony as a Court Appointed
Special Advocate. I had made it through the training and the mountains of information
we were given. I can remember the instructors telling our large class that
cases were waiting for us upon our successful completion of the course.
After the ceremony, the CASA case coordinator was waiting for us to come out
of the courtroom so she could give us information on our first case. Despite
its scope, the course I had just completed did not prepare me for the child
whose life I would help shape forever.
I was paired-up with another classmate. We were assigned to a case involving
a young mother, who had recently turned 13, and her 4-month-old baby boy. He
was big, weighing 20 pounds at 4 months.
He had a full head of hair, and he was absolutely beautiful. Our first visit
brought both joy and anguish because of the situation. This young mother talked
freely about her past. She told us that her father was her first perpetrator.
She told us that she had sex with 6 to 8 men a night. Her mom would get the
men to pay, and then she would spend the money on their drug and alcohol habit.
Her mom was on dialysis, but used drugs and alcohol daily. Her father was in
and out of jail because of theft and buying and selling drugs. The baby was
staying in a foster home because "our little mother" had put a pillow over the face of her baby to stop him from crying. She said that she tried to kill herself a couple of times because she could not handle the baby, and she wanted to party. We met at least once a week with this child, and not a visit went by that she did not ask about her son.
CPS was seeking termination of all parental rights not only for our young
mother from her parents, but also of our young mother's parental rights from
her child. Convincing a young mother to give up her child was the toughest
thing I have ever had to do in my life. We found a paternal aunt and uncle
who tried to take care of the baby, but the child, born drug addicted, had
many violent outbursts and was too difficult for them to handle. The day finally
came when we went to court, and our young mother gave up her rights.
I wish I could say the next 2 ´ years saw great strides, but this child continued
to run away from foster care for weeks at a time, do drugs, and have sex. She
spent many months in and out of psychiatric hospitals. She looked so much older
than her 15 years. Finally, a caring CPS worker found a foster mom in another
county who would be a positive influence in this child's life.
This case had so many ups and downs, frustrations, laughter, and so many tears.
I know there were times when she did not like me, but I know that she trusted
me and knew that I cared about her and her baby. If or when she needed me,
she would find a way to contact me.
I lost touch with this child for almost a year. Then I received a call from
CASA that someone visiting in Beaumont was asking to see me. It was this
and the change in appearance and attitude was unbelievable. She was a young
woman now, attending school and making As and Bs. She was focused on her
asked if I had seen her son, and I told her that he had been adopted and
was doing great. She then told me how her foster mom had helped her and that
was considering a career as a lawyer or social worker so she could help
children like herself.
I never keep my feelings a secret from the children I work with. As CASA
volunteers, we have a tough job to do. We have to look out for the best
interest of the child.
Sometimes we do not agree with CPS, the lawyers or the judge, but we
have to stand behind our convictions and what we know will keep the children
I truly believe that I have made a difference in the life of a child,
and that is what being a CASA is all about.