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Reagan Karr

My husband and I moved to the Baton Rouge area in June of 2017. I work as a project manager for a pipeline company. After a year of getting settled in our new jobs, I knew I had the time to dedicate myself to a greater cause. I had heard of CASA in college and started researching the organization. Although I was nervous, I signed up for the training. It seemed like a good fit for me. Not having kids of my own yet, I had the time to dedicate to a case, and I felt that my background also made me a good candidate. I did not enter foster care, but I had a unique childhood that I felt could help me relate to certain children in the system.

In April 2018 I was assigned to my first CASA case which included three children: Kyle (8), Kristy (5), and Kerry (1). When Kerry was born, all three children were removed from their mother because Kerry was her fifth drug-exposed baby. Between Kristy and Kerry, the biological mother had two other babies who entered foster care and were adopted due to being drug exposed. I always wondered why the older two kids were not placed in foster care when they were newborns. Why take two newborns and not Kyle and Kristy? Why wait until Kerry (fifth child) is taken at birth to take Kyle and Kristy and place them in foster care?

When I received the case, the children had been in care for about a year. Kyle and Kristy were together in a foster home with a family friend, and Kerry was in a separate foster home where he had been since birth. After a few months, the biological mother and both fathers released their rights so the children could be adopted. Then we began the long road to actual adoption.

I believe their mother knew that they were going to stable homes. She knew that she would not be able to stay sober to establish a stable life for her children. I was an advocate for both foster families who adopted the children. The family friend who adopted Kyle and Kristy still allows the children to see their mother when she is sober. On Kerry’s second birthday, he was adopted by the only family he’d ever known.

While advocating for these children, I grew attached to Kyle and Kristy. Once a month, I would take them to do something fun or provide a new experience. Because of Kerry’s age, I would never leave the foster home with him. One simple new experience Kyle and Kristy had was drinking hot chocolate at the bookstore. They loved it and had never been to a bookstore. I connected with them, and I know they connected with me. One day as I was walking into Area 51 with them, Kyle turned to me and said, “I wish you were our mom.” His words broke my heart. When I had first viewed the case file, this case hit home with me when I realized I was the same age as his mom – 25. I tried to imagine myself with five children and not having custody of any of them.

The most rewarding thing about being a CASA volunteer was getting to know the children. All three taught me more than they will ever realize. Despite their past hardships, Kyle, Kristy, and Kerry were able to light up a room and share their joy with others. They all found delight in the simplest things. Kyle and Kristy also had a deep sibling bond that inspired me. They valued each other so much and were willing to do anything for each other.

The most challenging thing about the case was staying frustrated with “the system.” One example was when I received the case, it was assumed that all three children had the same father. When I reviewed the case file, I noticed Kyle had a different name on his birth certificate. It was only then that efforts were put in place to locate this man.

The case officially closed by adoption in April of 2019. I am so thankful for the CASA experience and am excited about future cases. Being a CASA volunteer, I have met great people in this organization and made friends. I now tell everyone about this organization, hoping others will volunteer too.

Written by Reagan Karr, CASA volunteer since 2018

Names changed for confidentially purposes.


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