CASA: Greetings From My Front Porch

| October 31, 2019

VENANGO CO., Pa. – Cinnamon Evans, Executive Director of CASA of Venango County, submitted the following article.

As I was sitting in my happy place thinking about what I was going to write to you all, my mind kept going to my childhood and my childhood best friends, who I am still friends with to this day.

I was thinking of all the people who helped me with my life’s story and are still doing so to this day.

I was not abused or neglected as a child, I didn’t have perfect parents, but who does really? But, I grew up in the most amazing little village. If I were to list all the people who affected change in my life, there would be pages and pages of names. I am blessed to still be surrounded by that amazing village. I have two BFFs of 40 years. They are both amazing friends who I have met along my life’s journey.

Then, I started thinking about National CASA’s new branding slogan, “Change a Child’s Story™.”

Honestly, I was like, “What took them so long to think of this?” I have been saying this in training classes for years now.

I am happy to report that I feel CASA of Venango County has done this, not just once but at least 1,000 or more times over our last 14 years. I have seen children return home, be adopted by family, adopted by foster homes (even those who thought they never would adopt.)

There is one adoption that was held this past summer that every time I think of it, I smile.

Everyone whose duty it was to be there was there, the child’s CASA, Sandy, who ended up holding the child for a bit and sitting with her new family, of which at least 30 were in attendance. The best part was to see her village – her FAMILY! Please don’t think there weren’t rough and rocky roads with this case, but the child did so well in her foster home from day one, everyone was amazed. She was never moved. She had a couple of different case workers, and of course, her CASA, Sandy.

To be honest, it surprised everyone how well she adjusted.

She did not exhibit a single behavioral problem. When she confided some horrible things that happened to her to her foster dad, yes – you read that right – her FOSTER DAD, it was because she felt safe with him. Not that she didn’t with her foster mom, but it was a strange turn of events, let us say. The usual person you think would be the abuser was not in the case here.

Sandy was beside herself.

The stories the child told were in such detail, such graphic detail that it was a lot to take in not only for Sandy but for the foster home. But, Sandy stood by her child, listened and was a shoulder to the foster parents. And, she worked very well with all of the service providers. And, then the day came for the child to be adopted, Friday, June 28.

CASA and a whole host of providers helped to change HER story. HER smile that day was infectious! The judge remarked it was a blessing to see her new village and her new life beginning to unfold and the past behind her.

But, is it really behind her?

My thought is that, unfortunately, it is not. It will not define her, but it might haunt her.

Another of our other CASA volunteers and foster/adoptive mom had shared a post on Facebook, and I want to share it with all of you:

Real Life Foster Mom

I don’t know why people think that trauma just disappears after adoption occurs, or that adoptive families no longer need support. There is no doubt that adoption is beautiful, but we must remember that it also comes with so much brokenness.

I know because I’m living & breathing this every day. As an adoptive mom, I can guarantee you that when the judge signs those papers, it may calm the chaos of the long & stressful adoption process; but it won’t calm the chaos inside of them that trauma brings. Our adopted children have undoubtedly experienced trauma—yes, even ones separated from their parents at birth. We know that trauma physically rewires children’s brains causing attachment, anger & behavioral disruptions far beyond what society considers ‘normal’ for most kids.

This cannot & will not be healed overnight.

After adoption, it’s still hard for our families to find babysitters who can manage our kiddos, friends that will tolerate our children’s high needs, teachers that are trauma-informed, or even health care professionals that fully grasp the effects of trauma.

Every day we are investing in the restoration of our children. It’s absolutely worth, it but it’s also hard & exhausting. Our children need gentle understanding just like they did before adoption took place; & adoptive families still need support so we can continue to do the hard work that healing brains & bodies effected by trauma entails. #Adoption #TraumaInformed

So, what I am taking the long way to get at is we still need to support these adoptive families! We need to be a shoulder to lean on and a sitter to give them a break. Their story doesn’t end at adoption, it only begins. #casaofvenangocounty.

Much Love,

Cinnamon, Executive Director CASA of Venango County

For more information about CASA of Venango County, visit https://www.casaofvenangocounty.org/.


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