Tonight it was a privilege to attend a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Volunteer Appreciation Event. I was captivated by all the volunteers around me who serve the children in our community, making sure they have a voice.
Those of you who regularly read my blog know that adoption and foster care is dear and near to my heart. I love every part of it…well, nearly…I can certainly gripe about the system. As a foster parent I’ve had an in-depth view of the system. I’ve had children move in my home in a moment’s notice. We had an awesome experience – adopting two of our three foster care children. But many families I speak to about foster care aren’t ready to make the commitment and plunge to become foster parent’s themselves. I’m always surprised by this. It seems like such an easy way to really make a difference in a life. Everyone has a reason. I’m going to be honest and blunt—the majority of the reasons I’m given are NOT very good (in my opinion). I’ve heard everything from “I’m afraid to love a child and then have to let them go” …. to “I already have a stepson.”
Children removed from their homes need a voice. These children often have been abandoned and abused. This is where the Guardian ad Litem program steps in. Guardians become familiar with the the child and the child’s case. They visit the homes of foster parents, and also attend visits with the biological families. They become the voice of the child in the courtroom.
The guardians for our children have been the most wonderful asset to us as foster parents. They have stepped in like no other to make sure the child’s needs are being met, that the child is getting the absolute best outcome, and also to inform us of what’s happening with the child’s case. I’ve always been able to rely on our guardians. If I have a question, they are often the first one I call. They were incredibly helpful in our adoption of Petra and really stepped up for her best-interest.
If you are wanting to help children in need, children who are in the middle of a crisis, then this is a great place to start. The commitment is much less than that of foster parents. But you become a valuable asset for that child, and also for others involved in the process. Many of the volunteers sitting around me tonight said they usually take 1 to 2 cases at a time, depending on what their schedule allows.
Tonight the guest speakers were people who have greatly impacted my life and it was a joy to listen to their comments. I listened intently as the Guardian ad Litem attorney gave a few remarks – she fought hard on our daughter’s adoption and dedicated a ton of time to our case. And I was captivated as the judge that presided over Jasper’s adoption shared personal stories and also how he he made a point to read and place a heavy value on the Guardian’s reports in each and every case.
This is a job that takes a few hours each month, and makes a huge impact on a life. Click HERE for information on how to become involved in a local GAL program.