When I met my daughter, Sarah, she fit in the palm of my hand.
Sarah was born premature and drug-addicted. When she was out of the woods, the NICU discharged her to me.
Sarah was the fourth baby I’d fostered, and I knew the drill. I held her tightly to regulate her tiny, addicted body, I sang to her and nurtured her, I fed her around the clock.
She was down…but not counted out.
By her first birthday, Sarah was hitting important developmental milestones. We had loved this little girl to health, and her future looked bright.
Her birth mother asked me to adopt Sarah. I was honored.
Then one of Sarah’s case workers said words I’ll never forget, “We found a distant relative across country, and we are going to send Sarah to be with her own kind.”
Her own kind?
We were the only family Sarah had ever known. And her mother had expressed her intent and signed the papers.
Could the state disregard her mother’s wishes? Could it remove Sarah from our home because we were the wrong race?
Like most states, the laws on Arizona’s books provide some protections for children. But what happens when these laws are ignored?
In my case, I hired attorneys to represent Sarah’s best interests and spent eighteen excruciating months embroiled in litigation until we went before the judge, who, without hesitation, ruled in our favor.
Private attorneys cost tens of thousands of dollars. Very few families can afford those fees - nor should they have to.
Children and their families – both biological and foster – caught up in the foster care system are unable to avail themselves of the legal system. I have seen it time and time again.
This is why I’m thrilled to share the news that two champions for children – Tom Lewis and Mike Watts – have generously provided seed funding to open the Generation Justice Legal Advocacy Clinic for Children.
The purpose of the Legal Clinic for Children is to recruit and train a network of pro bono attorneys who will represent the best interests of children. These attorneys will work with relevant parties, including biological parents, family members, and foster caregivers, in a manner that ensures applicable laws are being followed so that better and faster outcomes are achieved.
Our goal is to ensure that every child has the full protection of the law.
As I recently wrote for National Review, “foster care has never fulfilled its promise of being safe and temporary, and it will never fulfill that promise as long as children have fewer rights than their abusers do.”
The demands for justice are pressing: We see this in the fast-growing membership of our organization, and the fact that we have fielded legal inquiries from as close as California and as far away as Virginia in just the past week.
If you’d like to start a chapter in your state or volunteer your legal services, please email our counsel, Rebecca Masterson at [email protected]
For five years before founding Generation Justice, I spearheaded the Right to Try. Last week, I traveled to Washington to be with the President as he signed that reform into law.
Working across the political aisle and going state-by-state, Americans brought life-saving change to Washington. With your help, we can do the same for children.
Please consider making a special one-time gift today to jumpstart the Legal Center – and help us reach more children and more families, faster:
A founding gift provides the resources necessary to review the court filings in 5 children’s cases and identify any miscarriages of justice.
A champion gift allows us to host a training session for judges, attorneys and case workers.
One ambassador gift assists in the building and maintenance of a web portal for volunteer attorneys to access forms, pleadings and case information.
Thank you for supporting legal rights and protections for children.