This is a picture of a cycle broken, hope restored, and the essence of love.
I look at the enormous heart that crowns the parents joined hands; I look at the smiles on their faces and the words at the top of the paper, and I am reassured I made the right decision.
Being a CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate) is ladened with hard decisions. My CASA duties are to advocate for and present to the court, the best interests of a child removed from their home.
The goal is always to reunite the family, but it’s not always best or the right decision.
The little girl who drew this picture for me came into care as an infant. Her abuse was heart wrenching, but even more so was her young mother’s story, a lifelong victim of the same.
As a CASA you become involved in all touch points of a child’s life. You sit in on parent/child visits, visit the foster home, conference with teachers, doctors, social workers, and other entities involved in the rebuilding and assessment process. On my first visit with his barely adult mother, it was clear she loved her daughter very much and wanted to make a better life for both of them. The court recognized her sincerity as well and together we fought to break the cycle, pick up the broken pieces, and give this mother a fresh start. We found resources and funding to get her off the street and through rehab. She received an apartment to call her own, counseling, and the opportunity to pursue her dream to complete her GED. She tried hard; taking two steps forward, only to tumble back. Over and over, again. We remained committed and helped her re-start many times and for a while she was thriving, dreaming and even smiling. But the unfamiliar grew a hole in her that blossoming confidence could not fill. The loneliness and the longing drew her back to the comfort of her brokenness. There is always a breaking point, a fracture of light where a decision must be made.
We had to break cycle for the sake of the little one and generations to come. With great agony, we terminated the mother/child relationship and allowed the foster parents to adopt her. Seeing the picture she drew of love as God intended it to be reassures me we made the right choice, but I still wonder, and I pray for the birth-mom. I mourn for her and so many like her who have been robbed of God’s design for love; a love that protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
And, my heart still breaks.
To learn more about brokenness and why we must break the cycle, there is an amazing documentary by Mierendorf Films, called "The Broken Child" linked here. Please know, it is a difficult subject matter to watch and should not be viewed with children.