By Vicki Spriggs
Chief Executive Officer of Texas CASA
Even as a young girl I knew that I wanted children someday, but I never wanted to physically have them. It wasn’t that I was afraid, or that I thought the world was too populated, or any medical or philosophical reason – I just knew that it was not going to be my path. I always hoped to adopt.
When I moved to Texas and my career path offered me the opportunity to serve youth in the juvenile justice system, I still wanted children – but I traveled so much. My career was all consuming. It didn’t feel fair to adopt a child when I could not dedicate enough of my time and give the child the attention they needed and deserved.
As fate would have it, I met a man at a fundraiser. He had eight of the loveliest children I had ever seen. His wife had died suddenly, and he was left alone to raise their family, with the youngest being 8 years old. The rest is history. These children are now my children, and I am also the proud grandmother of four grandchildren: two girls and two boys.
Those of you who know me know that I am a very private person, but I felt, in this month of all months, that this story needed to be shared. November is National Adoption Month, and in Texas there are more than 7,200 children in the foster care system waiting to be adopted. Many of us think we are too busy, too old, or we don’t have enough resources to consider adopting. I would be remiss in not asking each of you to really consider for a minute: is there space in my life for a child who needs a forever home; or if not now, could there be in the future?
As if growing up in foster care isn’t enough, often these children have siblings that they’ve been separated from, with the youngest siblings being adopted first. When I asked my children how they survived their mother’s sudden, unexpected passing, they said it was because they had each other. I don’t know about you, but my like my children, my four sisters and I didn’t always agree on everything; but we had each other’s backs and we never felt alone. For those of you like me who grew up with siblings, can you imagine what it would have been like for your family to be separated – what it would have been like to never know where your siblings were, or possibly even never see them again? I certainly can’t.
But this is the heartbreaking reality for many children in our world; in the CASA world.
In the spirit of Adoption Month, a wonderful movie, Instant Family, debuted on Nov. 16. The movie is based on the real-life experiences of the director and his wife, who adopted three siblings out of foster care. Paramount has done a considerable amount of work promoting it among foster and adoption communities. At the end of the film, viewers are directed to resources and opportunities for people looking to help children in foster care – CASA is one of the select few organizations cited.
I know that everyone isn’t necessarily at a place in their life to adopt a child. Many, however, are in a place to become a CASA volunteer. One of the most important roles of CASA is to help bring together a group of caring adults – family and friends – that will stand beside the child as they go through foster care and beyond. As a CASA volunteer, you can be the person who helps keep siblings and families connected; who advocates fiercely to ensure children are safe, supported and protected; who gives children a better chance at a brighter future. Being a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a volunteer opportunity like no other. Maybe now is the time to take that step.
Every child has a chance – it’s you. ®
November is National Adoption Month, a month when we work to inform the community of the urgent need for more people to step up and support the vulnerable children in the foster care system. There are a variety of ways that you can support children, during National Adoption Month and beyond. If you are not currently in a position to foster or adopt, I encourage you to reach out and offer support to a foster family in your area.
If you are not currently involved with CASA, I ask you today to consider how you can play a part in making a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable children. Are you ready to take the first step towards becoming a CASA volunteer? Visit BecomeACASA.org to learn how you can speak up for a child who needs you. You can also support the work of Texas CASA by making a secure online gift that will benefit the local CASA volunteer advocacy programs across the state.