Today, the court officially closed out my first case as a Guardian Ad Litem. Happy ending? This one..was just..an ending. I have no idea what will happen to these children now as the mother has fled the state. Their whereabouts are unknown.
The Guardian Ad Litem office became involved with this family when an instance of domestic violence occurred resulting in the arrest of the infant child’s alcoholic father. The children were not physically injured, but after meeting with them at school for the first time, it was very evident that they had been through a lot in their young lives. The mother is a drug addict. Compounding the problem, she’s also newly diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder . Under ideal circumstances, this disorder is very difficult to treat. And the circumstances for this family were far from ideal.
The oldest child had been functioning in a caregiver capacity for the family for quite sometime. His childhood? He didn’t have time to be a child. He cooked, cleaned, and provided care for both of his brothers. There was no time for video games, playing outside, or homework. No hanging out with other kids. When I asked him if he would like to go and speak with someone about everything going on in his family he said ” Could I go after school? It would be nice to have a little time for myself. But only if my mom will be ok while I go.” It took everything in me to not cry in front of him at that moment. I kept it together long enough to make it to my car.
Throughout everything,those children loved their mother fiercely. Children always see the best in their parents. And it is very important to respect that.
I learned a lot. The most important thing that I’ll be taking with me from this case is the knowledge that I will rarely feel that I am making a difference. But regardless of that, regardless of the outcome, children need a voice. They deserve a voice. And many times, too many times, their Guardian Ad Litem is the only voice that they have.
Children will undoubtedly come into contact with many people while their “case” works its way through the system making it hard for them to trust that anyone is working in their best interest. But that is exactly what their guardian does. Their responsibility, my responsibility, isn’t to the parents. It isn’t to the court. It is to the child. Part of that responsibility is getting to know the child, and earning his trust. It isn’t always easy. But it’s possible. Necessary.
I don’t know what will happen to these children now that the file has been closed. I can only pray that their mother will eventually reach the point where she is willing to admit that she has a problem and seek help. That she will realize that her children deserve better than what they have been given. As does she.
As for me, I’ll be onto the next case. A little wiser, but completely committed. I read a prayer once that stayed with me. Because it’s easy to allow our hearts to harden so that all of the sadness around us doesn’t sting as much. But a hard heart is never a good thing. Good seeds can’t grow there. So I pray this prayer, knowing that only through Jesus can I stay soft.
Oh God,Give me strength to live another day.
Let me not turn coward before its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties;
Let me not lose faith in other people;
Keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude, treachery, or meanness;
Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them;
Help me to keep my heart clean, and to live so honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away the joy of conscious integrity;
Open wide the eyes of my soul that I may see good in all things;
Grant me this day some new vision of thy truth;
Inspire me with the spirit of joy and gladness;
and make me the cup of strength to suffering souls;
in the name of the strong Deliverer, our only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ