Volunteer Viewpoint

Volunteer Viewpoint: Carol Griffin, CASA Since 2014

My name is Carol Griffin. I became a CASA a little over three years ago. After I retired, I knew that I wanted to become involved in something that would make a difference in the lives of others. I remembered a CASA television advertisement from years ago, so I googled CASA and knew this was something I wanted to do.
Within a week or so of completing training, I got a call from Susan Murrell, CASA supervisor, inviting me to speak to her about a case. I was excited, but also scared! When I met with Susan, I think she read my mind, body language, or she’s just very perceptive, as she managed to relieve my anxieties. Her promise to be with me every step of this journey sealed the deal.
My first case involved an opioid positive newborn, Samantha. DCFS reviewed the case to learn that this mother had other children. Two boys who were six and seven years old: One lived with his father, and the other lived with relatives. She also had a daughter who had just turned four and a baby son who was twelve months. During the investigation, DCFS determined that three of the children were in homes that placed them at risk, therefore were placed in foster care.
The children were incredibly blessed to be placed in a loving home under the care of an experienced foster mom. She never seemed overwhelmed at the daunting responsibility of caring for three children under the age of five. Ms. Smith became “mother” to these children from the start. I think she knew it, the children felt it, and so did I. It was amazing and beautiful to see how quickly they bonded together as a family.
Weekly visits between the children and their mother became more and more infrequent, and by the end of the first year, they had pretty much stopped altogether. During this time, DNA tests were administered to several men to locate the biological fathers of the children. No results were a match.  
After the first year, we learned that their biological mother, Joan, had delivered another baby girl who was also opioid positive. This baby was placed in foster care along with the six-year-old brother, who at the time was living with Joan. She continued to miss visitations and appointments with DCFS and eventually signed away her parental rights for the three children freeing them for adoption. The foster mother, Ms. Smith, voiced her desire to adopt the children and keep them together. I was overjoyed at the news! These children were being adopted by the only mother they knew.
Then the bottom dropped! DNA results revealed the biological father of Samantha. He was incarcerated, but he, his mother, and grandmother wanted custody of this beautiful little girl, who at the time was three years old. The father participated in parenting classes while incarcerated and Samantha began visiting with her grandmother and great-grandmother. Although they were doing everything right, it felt wrong.
Through so many twists and turns in the case, Samantha’s father did a complete 180-degree turn and decided to waive his parental rights with one stipulation; he wants to have contact with his daughter. The foster mom gladly agreed and has begun the process to adopt all three of the children.
The three children have also met their other siblings. Ms. Smith is committed to her children maintaining a relationship with their siblings. I am so grateful that these children are moving from foster care to permanence without emotional scars that could permanently damage their lives. This case has a happy ending, and I’m so thankful for CASA and the opportunity to serve as a volunteer!

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