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Thu August 8, 2013
Children, Volunteers Find Hope in Special Advocate Programs
A long journey for a Paducah girl in and out of foster homes ended with a successful adoption this month.
The Court Appointed Special Advocates program in McCracken County played a major role in the smooth transition for a girl whose parents could no longer care for her.
At any given time, more than 250 kids receive help from CASA in the Purchase area. This story is of one girl, her new family and the CASA volunteer who helped her find a new home.
Meet Miranda McGlone. She’s a pretty typical 17-year-old teenager. But Miranda isn’t a typical teenage girl.
She’s spent the last four years of her life bouncing around foster and group homes in western Kentucky. She was neglected by her parents for much of her childhood.
Her mother was constrained to a wheelchair and largely unable to care for her and her two siblings. Her brother left – caught up in a life of drugs and crime.
Her father was jailed for drug-related charges. When he was released, she says, he fought hard to take care of her family living out of cheap motels in Paducah. That’s when the state showed up to take the children in to foster care. She says her mother understood but her father didn’t.
"He … he didn’t want us to go," she said. "He tried to make it right and get us back, but he had a bad drug problem, and … It’s really hard to lose your child anyways. My mom just knew it was best, but my dad, he took it harder."
The state appointed Miranda and her older sister to a foster home. Her sister settled in and is still there. But Miranda says she fought bouts of anger and depression.
She received treatment in Hopkinsville and then moved to a group home in Webster County while the state sought willing parents. She moved so much, she says, it changed her.
"You really don’t know what to expect whenever you first get there, and then after staying a while, and you get used to things, and then have to get up and move again … it was really confusing," she said.
And then Miranda made her final stop with new parents Robert McGlone and Amanda Park –The couple has been foster parents for some time.
They say after the first weekend they spent with Miranda, they knew they wanted her to be a part of the family. Here’s Robert.
"At age 14, I was actually a ward of the state," he said. "Both of my parents were deceased when I was 14, and so I kind of had an idea of what she’s going through as far as transitions from one home to the next – the constant moving and the uncertainties."
For the last year, Miranda has been introduced to a new way of life with new parents where she says she finally feels loved.
"For them to open up their home … For them to care about me and know my past, and them to still love me for who I am, it meant a lot and it takes special people to do that," she said.
Julie McKeel is the CASA coordinator and director of advocacy for ChildWatch of McCracken County. In short, she’s in charge of the volunteers who work to make sure that every child who has a story like Miranda’s has a success story to follow suit.
"Generally, a child’s parents are their advocates," she said. "When a parent is, for whatever reason, unable or unwilling to do that, our CASA volunteers step into that role."
Often children in the foster care system must endure drawn-out custody battles in family court, and sometimes – especially for sexual abuse cases – testify in circuit court.
Julie says CASA volunteers interview teachers, foster parents and friends. They become advocates for the children their assigned to … during often the most difficult times of their childhoods.
Sandra Windt is the CASA volunteer who worked Miranda’s case.
"When they hurt, you hurt, too, because, y’know, if you’re very involved … really emotional," she said. "But then you’re happy when they’re happy. When good things happen."
Sandra says, like in Miranda’s case, good things can happen all the time.
"I was in a dark place, and living with them now, I feel happier," Miranda said.