Thank you to Charlene, a former CASA child from Texas, for telling her story in this guest post, and to Miss Belle, for all she did to help Charlene and her sister find their stable and loving “forever” home.
When I was little, I had a secret—one I kept to myself for years. Every time I thought about it, I got so scared I didn’t know what to do.
The first time I cried out for help, my mom said I was making it all up. There’s no way that any of her boyfriends would lay their hands on me. But they did. It happened to my little sister, too.
I was 6 and my sister was 4 when we were taken away from our mom. It was an awful time. We were terrified. But there was one person who stood by us through all the upheaval. She was there for us every time we needed her, making sure we were OK.
Her name was Miss Belle. She was our CASA volunteer.
No matter where we lived, Miss Belle visited us once or twice a week. She took us to the library, the park, did arts and crafts with us—things we’d never done before. She made us feel safe and happy.
We could tell she really cared about us. We knew we could depend on her no matter what. When one foster home didn’t work out, she helped us find another. She met with our case manager to prepare her for important court dates.
It took some time, but eventually Miss Belle helped us find my father, who had split up with Mom when I was a baby. Miss Belle drove eight hours to meet with my dad’s parents, who said they could take us in. She wanted to make sure our grandparents could give us the stable “forever” home we so desperately needed.
Granny and Paw Paw later adopted me and my sister and have given us a loving home where we have healed and learned the meaning of hope.
I used to feel so ashamed of who I was that I’d wear baseball caps in pictures and cover my face. Not anymore. Miss Belle taught me to love who I am—to feel beautiful inside and out. I will forever feel grateful that my sister and I had such an amazingly supportive CASA volunteer standing up for us when we needed her.
Imagine if every foster child were so fortunate.