In February 2015, I was sworn in as a Wake County Guardian Ad Litem volunteer. GALs are assigned to advocate for all children who come into the care of Wake County. My work as a GAL includes visiting with the child at least once a month, working closely with social workers, contacting various people (biological parents, relatives, foster parents, teachers, doctors) to understand what is going on in the child’s life, preparing reports for hearings, and presenting recommendations to the court.
It is easy to state the purpose of a GAL: To advocate for the best interests of the child. In practice, that is often a complicated and challenging task.
For the past year, I have been assigned to the case of a very young child. It is startling and humbling to realize that I have been the most constant presence in his life. At times, the experience has been frustrating, overwhelming, and gut-wrenching. Most of all, it has been incredibly rewarding. I have spoken up for a child who could not speak for himself, and I can see concrete ways that my advocacy has had a positive impact on his life.
I decided to become a GAL so that I could help children in an immediate and meaningful way. Volunteering gives me a sense of connection that can sometimes be missing in my phone and email-heavy day. It has also been inspiring to work with other people who are dedicated to helping children. The social workers, GAL supervisors, and foster families I have met are truly amazing. The kids we serve face so many obstacles. I’m proud to be part of a team working to give them the best possible future.