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It Takes A Village: The Guardian Ad Litem

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In the county I live in, right now there are over 600 plus children in the foster-care system. Each one of these children will be appointed a Guardian ad Litem. This is a volunteer position, and currently our county is in desperate need of people willing to step up and become a child’s advocate.  Guardians ad Litem serve as court-appointed advocates for abused and neglected children who come to the attention of the juvenile court system. Judges depend on testimony and reports from the Guardian ad Litem to inform their decisions about how to protect each child from further harm and meet their needs.

We were very lucky! Our Guardian ad Litem was/is an Angel. She took this position seriously, and never missed an appointment, court date or home visit. She did it with a smile on hr face and love in her heart. She has become an extended family member, and knew and fought for the protection of our children before we even met them.

A lot of people I encounter are concerned about the amount of children in the foster-care system, but are unable to adopt or foster a child. This is just one more way that someone can help the children without making a life-long commitment to the child.

What exactly does the Guardian ad Litem do? This is taken from the website:

Volunteer Responsibilities

  • Visits the child and keeps the child informed about the court proceedings.
  • Communicates with the Attorney Advocate to develop legal strategies to further the best interests of the child.
  • Gathers and assesses independent information on a consistent basis about the child to recommend a resolution that is in the child’s best interest. 
  • Interviews the parents, guardians, caretakers, social workers, and other service providers, and reads records related to the case.
  • Seeks cooperative solutions with other participants in the child’s case. 
  • Writes fact-based, child-focused reports for court hearings.
  • Attends and participates in court hearings and other related meetings to advocate for a permanent plan thatserves the child’s best interest. 
  • Testifies, if needed, to inform the court of the child’s situation.
  • Ensures that the court knows the child’s wishes.  
  • Keeps all records and information confidential.
  • Monitors all court-ordered services and keeps the court informed about the needs of the child.
  • Consults with local program staff for support and guidance.

If you have love in your heart,  passion for justice and a little extra time these children need YOU!

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Signed, Sealed and Delivered…I am Yours!

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When we adopted Lola and Diego there was a lot of hand holding through the process. We adopted through a private agency in the United States. Our agency gave us a sheet typed out in ‘comic sans’ that gave us a step-by step account of what to expect during the process. I remember sitting down with that sheet of paper and going through each step with our case worker and asking her how long for each step. Even with that, they said the PGN process could be between 2 weeks and 6 months (yes…we got the 6 month end of that deal).

This time we are adopting domestically, through the fostercare system. This has been a very different process, and I have never really known where we are in the process. After something BIG , happens I will ask…What next? about when do you anticipate this being final?

The difference is, we have our babies here with us. I get to hug them, hold them and kiss them goodnight. The adoption paperwork is really a matter of formality (don’t get me wrong, I will be excited), but it’s not like when we were waiting for Lola and Diego. Everyday that passed, was a day lost. It was excruciating knowing that they were somewhere else, and not knowing how they were being taken care of. I already loved them, they were already my children. I had several women that had gone through childbirth, try to commiserate with me over the fact that they were a week or two past their due date. Although, with all things relative, and I am sure that really sucks and is physically uncomfortable, i would think to myself “yea, but you had your baby, safe, warm and in the comfort of your womb”

That is why I am not stressing over the details of the ‘when’ the adoption will  be finalized, in my heart, it’s a done deal. What will finalization mean for our family? It will mean that we will no longer have 4 different last names, it will mean that we can make any decision regarding their education, health, diet or even hair (yes hair) that we want. We will be able to travel anywhere in the world we want to go, and we won’t need special papers and permission just to cross the state line. It will also mean that we will not have home visits (except for just a few post-adoption visits) anymore, even though we have been very fortunate to have the best GAL (Guardian ad Litem) we could ask for, and our case worker has been one of the great ones.

So for those that are curious about when all this will happen, here is where we are at:

Georges and I need to have a stack of files signed in front of a notary, and then we file with the County Clerk Office.  The county clerk has 30 days to return it to our case worker, then she has 60 days to to process and submit to the state. they don’t have a deadline, but turn around on that is about 30 days. We just watch the mailbox for the next 3-4 months for the decree to come in the mail. No Judges, No courts…just the mailman bringing us the paperwork one day.