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Writing For My Life

Traveling Down A New Path

I am so excited…

We are traveling to Georgia today!!! We are going to see my sister!!! It has been almost a year since we have seen her and TJ. And I have missed them so much.Cyndi and I talk as often as we can on the phone and it feels like she is with me, but it isn’t the same. I can’t touch her or hug her or comfort her when she is having a bad day.It is so frustrating that we live so far apart. It is a 900 mile trip by car which amounts to about 12 hours drive time.It will be Leo’s birthday, so we are going to have an unbirthday party soon after we get there. This is an old picture of one such unbirthday party that we had. Of course, this is a very old picture, before I gained all my weight and got old. lol…

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I wish Cyndi and I were next door neighbors. She offered us the property behind her house, but Leo does not want to have to start over at his age. I guess I don’t blame him. It would be difficult clearing the land and putting in a drain field, pouring a slab and blocking in the under-skirting of a modular home. or building a home. Plus we have out buildings that we would need when we moved as well.And moving is hard work, especially with all my stuff. And I have a lot of stuff!!!

Craft room redo Feb 21 011

.She does too, but her’s is more organized than mine.She has been busy organizing it so it is easier for her to get things she needs and to be  to see what she has available to work with. I wish I had her determination. I have so much to do, too. But my rooms are in such a state of disarray that I become so overwhelmed that I become paralyzed and give up. I can’t wait to see the progress she has made. I am hoping that it will give me the incentive to get organized myself. If she can do it from a wheelchair, then I can certainly do it with arms and legs that work.My sister has Multiple Sclerosis (MS). She has been having a hard time. I cant’ wait to get down there so we can do crafts together…I have been missing sister time. And there is so much that we want to do together, sewing, collaging, beading. I don’t know if we will get to it all, but we have three weeks to try. I wish her pool was open, I would help her with her water therapy…

two women doing crafts together

They got a special van so she can get to her doctor’s appointments.and to get her out of the  house but she does not go out much. It is a cool van. It’s a modified Grand Caravan. The ramp is in the back so she can drive up the ramp and into the van. Then it dips down so she has headroom and maneuvering room. It has straps to keep her secure in the van.and she a seatbelt in her wheelchair to keep her in safe.

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..Well, I have to finish packing last minute items. So until next time Make your days good ones…

 

It’s Official…

I am officially a CASA! I am so excited and feel so honored to be an officer of the court. We were sworn in by Judge Cavanaugh and she even teared up during the proceeding. We had photos taken with her to commemorate the event. Afterward, our instructors, who are also our Supervisors, had us back at LACASA for cake and more photos. It made it such a special day. It was a happy ending to the intense training we went through, making it all worthwhile.

For those that do not know, a CASA is a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children who have been removed from their home due to abuse and/or neglect. Children who have been removed from the home are generally placed with a family member (outside of the home), if at all possible, or a foster care family. When this happens two separate cases are opened. One is for reunification with the family, handled by Protective Services, the other, handled by an Adoption Worker, takes steps to allow for the adoption of the child.

The hope is that the parents of the child will do their best to correct the problem(s) that led to the removal of the child. If they fail to do that during the course of time allowed by the Child Protection Act then the favored course is the termination of parental rights and adoption of the child.

The court wants the child to not remain in foster care indefinitely but to be placed in a permanent home as soon as is possible while still giving the family every reasonable opportunity to correct the deficits in the home.

There are many people involved in this process. The police, Protective Services, Attorneys, Adoption Services, Foster Families, the parents, the child, CASAs and many others. The CASA volunteers sole responsibility is to look out for the child’s interest and advocate in the best interest of the child.

I am delighted to be involved in this process. While I do not want to see any child abused and/or neglected. I look forward to being assigned to my first case. It is very rewarding to be able to make a difference in a child’s life. If I can make a difference in the life of just one child, I will feel that that is the reason that I was not allowed to die, when many believed my time was up…

Children need Love…

I have been volunteering at LACASA, an organization that provides services primarily to women who have suffered either abuse and/or sexual assault and children who have suffered abuse/neglect and/or sexual assault.  I have been studying really hard for these classes that I have been taking to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children. The classes have been intense but the reading assignments have been even more intense. There were only ten chapters in the program to read, but then there were handouts, the laws surrounding child abuse and neglect, and court reports that we have to file and how to write them. I really think that I am going to enjoy being a CASA court officer but I also know that it is going to be a lot of responsibility and a lot of work.

Heart from hands.    I worry about how I am going to deal with the parents who have been responsible for the abuse and neglect, especially if there has been criminal sexual conduct that the parent has been responsible for. I have to be mindful of the socio-economics involved in the case. I must be culturally sensitive and try to put any biases that I may have aside. I must be aware of the religious differences that exist and how to deal with people who may have different religious views than my own. And I have to check my political beliefs at the door. Most of those things I learned in Nursing school. But that has been a lifetime ago. or at least in my case in another life.

moon-joy

Children should be happy and free. Free to grow and learn. To play and to experience all of the joys of childhood. To be loved and nurtured by people who are supposed to care for them and consider them precious gifts. Gifts from the Creator. Children should be allowed to play in the sand, the snow, the water. To make sandcastles. snowmen and to splash in a pool or lake. They should be able to go to school to learn and to socialize with other children their age. They should not be full of fear, or self-loathing, or embarrassment because they are being abused or neglected at home.

David at Lake Superior 2David with snow ballsDavid standing in pool

Children should not be subject to abuse and neglect. But unfortunately, abuse happens. It occurs across socio-economic, cultural, religious and political groups. I have to really look at the family dynamics to find the root of the problem. Is there mental illness in the family? Is there alcohol or drug abuse going on? Is it just one child, or are all of the children being abused or neglected? The family dynamics and how the parents deal with the allegations and whether or not they are willing to get the help that they need.

Whether it is parenting classes, psychological counseling, rehab for drug or alcohol abuse, or anger management classes. Those are all of the requisites for parents to be reunified with their children. There is a time frame in which they have to meet or exceed these goals. If they don’t meet those goals within a specific amount of time the court can terminate their rights as parents and place the children up for adoption.

In the meantime, the children are placed in foster care. They can languish there for years while the court case goes on. And when it comes to whether or not a child is adoptable or not depends on the child’s disposition, their age, and any behavioral, mental, or physical problems the child might have. Children over the age of 10 are generally not considered adoptable because their behavior and disposition have been developed and it is difficult to change that. Teenagers are really not adoptable. People want the babies or the little ones who have not been too damaged by the environments that they have been raised in.

It is really a sad state of affairs. The courts are trying to speed up the process and find a permanent home for the children to live in, whether the custodial parent or an extended family member or adoption. They do not want to allow the child to remain in foster care for ages. Parents must work to get their children back and if they are not up to the task then the children suffer even more.

I want to be a useful member of society again, to give back to my community.  I hate to say it, but it reminds me of when I did a clinical with children who had cancer. Abuse and neglect are like cancer, one that we need to cut out. There is going to be a lot of tears, emotions, and I imagine a lot of sadness. I just hope that I can handle the appointment set before me. 

No Words…

For the past couple of weeks, I have not been able to write. I did not have writer’s block or anything like that. Just had a dark cloud over me as my son used to say. He always got one when he had to go back to school after a prolonged school break. I think for him it was separation anxiety that he was dealing with. I am not sure what my problem has been. Maybe just going through the holidays and dealing with David’s birthday has effected my mood. Then again maybe it is the training that I have been doing. It has taken up almost all of my time. The homework assignments have been really intense. Reading the laws on child abuse and neglect have been very difficult. Just hard to understand.

Eclipse at 35,000 ft.

I haven’t even been doing any research on my book, or writing any in the book that I am doing for Michael. I miss that. And I have missed blogging. My classes are now over. I have an interview to go to as a follow up to class. I am not sure why we are being interviewed again… I know that I still want to be a CASA. They still need CASA volunteers and I believe that I will make a good one. But then, after the interview, I have to go in one morning and observe the court proceedings. That is to see how things work when they go into court and what I may need to do as a court officer. And later that week is our swearing in ceremony. That sounds exciting to me.

I really want to get my life back in order. To return to my schedule. I will be volunteering, answering the phones and handling front desk activities on Tuesday afternoons at LACASA and doing my Thursday mornings at the Brighton Area Historical Society. And the rest of my days will be free again to do my writing, classes and research. At least, until I get a case.

Once I am assigned a case, with the CASA program. I will be responsible, initially, to see the child/ren every week. Meet with the parents, the foster parents, any medical professional that has seen the child, CPS worker, the child/ren’s teacher, any therapist that they have been seeing, the police officer if there was one involved and any specialty health care service provider that there may be. Also, I will be responsible for recommending any medical, psychological, or other educational help that may be needed by the child.

While I am not looking forward to any child being abused or neglected, I am looking forward to being assigned a case. I suspect with my Mental Health Nursing background I will be assigned a family with significant mental health issues. At least, that is my hope. That would put me back in my element. That or working with teens. I just love teenagers. Though they are the hardest to work with. I think I am up for the challenge.

Well, it is long past my bedtime. So with that I am off to slumber…

 

 

Changes in My Life…

A doorway to another world  This archway reminds me of my life right now. I feel that I am walking through a new doorway. Starting on a new path. There have been many changes in my life of late. It is a time of transition for me. Having to accept that I will never work as a nurse again, has brought me much pain. The feeling of little use to anyone around me has left me with a longing to try something new, something to bring joy back into my life.

 

bahs-history-oldtownhall_218_240 I have been volunteering at the Brighton Area Historical Society and learning about what life in Brighton was at the turn of the 1800’s when Brighton was still called Ore Creek. Such a fascinating journey that was made to create a village and then a city. I am working on a child’s book that includes some of the histories of the village. Still settling on a time frame. Have the beginning and ending worked out in my head, just trying to fill in the middle. Don’t know how long it will take for me to write it, but at least, it is in the works…

Heart from hands. I’ve also been volunteering at LACASA answering phones and doing events as they have needed me. The events are an important part of community service and outreach. St. George Lutheran Church in Howell hosted a Community Baby Shower. That was fun and so helpful to the women in this community that needed resources, that they may have not otherwise received. There have also been fund-raisers and awareness-raisers held in the community to help LACASA obtain funding to provide shelter and much-needed services to Men, Women, and Children who have survived Domestic Violence and Rape. Presently, I am in training to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Children in Livingston County. The training has been quite intense this month leaving little room for anything else. I am excited and fortunate to be healthy enough to perform this service.

green thumb I believe that if I can make a difference in the life of one child through the CASA program, then I will have fulfilled a mission that I have been called to do. I was kept here for a reason. I believe that I have found my callings and can become a productive member of this society again. At least, that is my hope.

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