Ally’s Story
The Experience of a CASA Child
 
For her Senior Project at South Medford High School, Ally volunteered in the CASA Office and shared her personal story at CASA’s annual “I Am for the Child Luncheon” in January 2016.  This is her story.
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My name is Ally. Although on my original birth certificate, it shows a different name. Up until I was nine, I was known as Raechel. I was given the opportunity to change my name because while growing up, meth was always present in my household. To this day, I can still remember the ingredients that can be used to create meth. While living with my biological parents, I attended almost every elementary school in Medford, and lived in every hotel and motel on Riverside Avenue. Moving from place to place became my life. Until I was nine, that’s all I had known.

Throughout my eight years in foster care, I had been placed in seven homes. In 2005, I met the two most important people in my life, and to this day, almost 11 years later, I call them my Mom and Dad. It was with them, that I had been introduced to the CASA program. Before I was given a CASA, I had no prior knowledge of what this program was, or how much of an impact they would have on me. My CASAs, Kathy and John, became such a huge part of my life in such a short amount of time. They had been there for me when I wasn’t sure that I even needed someone. They were the two people in my life that for once, I didn’t have to tell my story to, because they already knew. Back then, I didn’t know I would refer to my life with my parents as a “story”, one with a beginning and an end. I also never would have thought telling this story, my life, to all of you, would ever be a good thing.

After a short period of time getting to know my CASAs and my new foster family, my brother, sister and I were given the opportunity to be adopted to what everyone, even ourselves, thought was a suitable family in Ohio. CASA and my foster family put together a goodbye ceremony. We sat around a table, ate cake and laughed at all the memories we had made together, until it was time to say goodbye. With all of our things packed, we flew to a state, a town, a house, we didn’t know. When I think back to living in Ohio, I remember it as though I had dreamt it. It was like we fit into their family, opposed to all the other families that only felt temporary. Then one morning, three months later, our bags were packed again and I remember thinking to myself, “I hadn’t known there was a return policy on kids.”

Moving back to Oregon wasn’t the hard part. The hard part was the idea that we had moved hundreds of miles away for these people with the mindset that it was forever. Being surrounded by familiar faces, like my CASAs and my past foster family made it easier. For a couple of months all of us were hurt. After a year, something exciting happened. On April 17, 2007, we were adopted by our foster family. I remember our parents sitting us down at the kitchen table and asking if being adopted into their family would be something we would want. Of course we said yes. I have a list of the best days of my life. Being adopted is at the top of the list, right next to my sister having a baby. When we were adopted we lost contact with our CASAs for a little while, but when my sister was a freshman in high school, she recognized the attendance lady. The attendance lady was CASA Kathy. Working with the CASA program and all the people that are trying to help kids just like me, is the most incredible experience I have had. Now that I am older, I understand how much they helped shape the person I am today.
 
As I said earlier, today, almost 11 years later, I’m standing in front of all of you, telling my story. I never would have thought that I would be able to say or show people that there is a table full of people here today that love me. Because when I was seven, there wasn’t even enough to count on my right hand.