July 2013 Newsletter
Joanie McMullan: Helping five children leave the horrors of their past behind them.
Thank you to Child Advocates San Antonio (TX) and Joanie McMullan for sharing this story with us.
I took on my second CASA case six months ago. It’s been my privilege, as a volunteer, to help these five children leave the horrors of their past behind them.
The children were brought into CPS custody on Christmas Eve, when the baby of the family was born with heroin pumping through his system. Their mother went straight to jail from the hospital. Their father fled the scene and was apprehended months later. Three of the children went to one foster home, the sick infant went to another. The other sibling, a five-year-old girl, had been reportedly sold; the Department of Family and Protective Services launched an investigation to find her.
The two girls taken into care had both been sexually abused by their father. The oldest, now seven, was sullen, rude, cursed continuously, wouldn’t mind any rules, refused to do her homework and ran away from her foster home. She was later found and returned. Both began therapy immediately, and I began eating lunch weekly with the seven year old. I could literally watch her transform as I showed up time after time. She began smiling more and waving at her classmates who looked across the table at us. Her confidence level began to rise. We would talk about appropriate versus inappropriate behavior, and I urged her each week to try something new…tell a friend she liked her shirt, tell her sister she loved her, turn in her homework to her teacher…etc. Finally, she was prescribed medications to help her anger issues. I’m happy to report that this little girl is a joy to be with; she no longer clings to my leg on the playground after lunch but asks if it’s ok if she plays with her friends!
The younger girl, three years old, was hallucinating, pulling her hair out, pulling her teeth out, scratching her arms until she bled, and exhibiting aggressive sexual behavior. She needed a second opinion to begin any psychotropic drugs; and together, the foster mom and I called over 30 doctors in San Antonio. Finally, I found a psychiatrist in New Braunfels who would take a new patient and Medicaid. This traumatized little girl is now on the road to recovery. She’s stopped screaming and harming herself, she is smiling more and using her vocabulary to communicate her needs.
The baby is doing well now in his seventh month of life. His shakes have gone completely, he is gaining weight and finally using sounds and facial expressions to communicate. He is adored by his foster mom.
The missing five year old was located; and, it turns out, the child was emotionally and physically abused by her mother and no loving bond ever formed. She had actually asked another woman to take her child because she didn’t want her. While she was fortunate to be in the most loving environment a child could ask for, she, at age five, had never experienced any type of learning environment because the caregiver had no paperwork to prove any sort of guardianship. Her first learning experience happened on a Saturday, at CASA, when I took her to an event called “Art and Soul.”
She enjoyed the experience so much. I was able to show her how to use scissors. When she saw them, she said “my mommy uses those.” I told her now she could, too. It was so special to watch this beautiful little five year old open her eyes and smile at everyone around her. I’m working now with my case worker to get paperwork so she can be enrolled in kindergarten for the fall. It is my hope that she will remain with her present family and that I will someday attend an adoption ceremony for this woman and child who love each other so dearly.
It’s been my enormous privilege to watch the seeds of hope be planted in each of these precious children.
Joanie McMullan, volunteer
Child Advocates San Antonio (TX)
Volunteer Training and Resources
OCR’s Summer Conference – July 29-30 at Silverthorne Pavilion. To register now, click HERE!
Colorado West’s Lunchtime Learning (topic TBD-but it will deal with psychological subject)- July 24th from 12-1pm at the Medical Office Building in Frisco. Bring your lunch!
CASA Volunteer Training – Trends in Substance Abuse – August 7th from 1-5 at the Frisco Medical Office Building. Second floor in the “Ten Mile Room”. Register for free at http://trendsinsubstances.eventbrite.com/
Colleen: Will be on vacation July 10-31st. Talk to Hannah if you need support.
CASA 101 – July 7th from 3-5pm, July 18th from 3-5pm and July 25 from 9-11
Leadville – July 26th from 10-12pm
If you need access to commonly used CASA forms or templates, use our public file for CASA.