Any comments/critique/advice is much appreciated. This is my first draft.
I would like to say that my passion for law and decision to pursue law school was something deep-seated in my past. I would like to say that some previous incident from my youth led me to pursue my current interest in law. The fact is, beyond my father telling me I argued so much I might as well be a lawyer, the thought of law school never crossed my mind until much later in my life.
I spent the first three years of my professional career as a middle school teacher. I enjoyed my time working with “my kids”. During my time as a teacher I was responsible for developing lessons in accordance with the Sunshine State Standards for 7th grade Language Arts. Prior to teaching in Florida I was an 8th grade Language Arts teaching at The Middle School at Parkside in Manchester, NH. During my time at Parkside I was on a committee responsible for developing a pilot curriculum and framework for our school. Our principal at the time intended to present this curriculum to the Manchester School Board for use in the other public schools. While this provided me with an extra measure of professional responsibility, the highlight of my educational career came when I was announced at the 8th grade commencement ceremony and my students stood and cheered. I was the only teacher to receive this kind of ovation.
Teaching was certainly a pleasant and rewarding experience in my life. I likely could have remained a teacher and been very content. That idea, however, changed when I was introduced to Dependency. In July, 2006 a position with the Guardian ad Litem Program became available in Polk County. My fiancé told me that if I ever wanted to make a difference in the lives of children this was my chance. I began working for the Guardian’s Office in July, 2006. In more than two years with this program I have advocated on behalf of more than two hundred children. I have seen the happy endings, the successful reunifications and Permanent Guardianships. I have been rewarded by seeing children go home to parents who love them or be adopted by people who want nothing more than to love them. If this were the life of Dependency I would happily continue in my current role of supervising a group of dedicated Guardian volunteers. Sadly, Dependency is often ugly and the needs of children are too often ignored compared to the rights of the parents. Too often the law has come up short in providing for some children. While it was observing the impact attorneys had in Dependency proceedings and speaking with many of them about their profession, it wasn’t until the ugly side of Dependency hit so close to home that I realized my calling in law.
My fiancé and I are licensed foster parents in the state of Florida. We have been licensed for a little more than a year. We have had five amazing children come into our home in that time. Three of those children were returned to their respective families. One little girl was adopted by a wonderful foster family that had been caring for her brother and had no clue he even had a sister. Our fifth child has been in our home for almost a year. He was removed from his home when he was three months old. He was diagnosed failure to thrive. He was never fed properly as an infant. He was left to sit in his crib for hours on end. His mother is a drug addict who suffers from bi-polar disorder refuses to seek help from a dual diagnosis treatment center. His father is a career criminal who has not spent more than twelve consecutive months outside of jail or prison in over a decade and who will not be released from his current prison sentence for eight more months. Despite all of this, this child has no chance at permanency anytime soon. The Court seeks to establish permanency for children in Dependency within twelve months from shelter. This child is seventeen months old and permanency is nowhere on the horizon. Despite my best efforts to prove that adoption is in this child’s best interest, and admittedly my position on this matter is biased, I have met with a wall of resistance from the Department of Children and Families. The DC&F attorney feels that it’s “easier” to allow the father, who has never met the child and will be incarcerated until well after the child’s second birthday, to have an opportunity to complete a case plan and work towards reunification, despite the father’s stated lack of interest in this option. I have researched case law and Dependency law that allows the Department to proceed with Termination of Parental Rights but, to this date, my efforts have been in vain. I realized that the only way to effectively advocate for my child, and children in situations like his or worse, is to become an attorney.
The situation with my family and this child is not the sole reason for my decision to pursue law school. I have worked face-to-face with children who have been burned with cigarettes, beaten by an angry parent or had drugs fed to them to stop them from crying. I have seen cases of sexual molestation, extreme physical abuse and shaken baby syndrome. I have seen cases of parental alienation so severe that the mention of one parent’s name will send the child into a fit of anger and emotional distress. These children are the reasons I am seeking acceptance into law school. While programs like Guardian ad Litem seek to provide a voice for the most vulnerable among us, stronger advocates are always needed. These children deserve an attorney who is not content to take the “easier” road on their behalf. Please understand that my son is one of many children who need strong advocates. He is not the sole reason I am pursuing law. Rather, he will be my motivation to persevere when hours of studying rules and procedures for Torts, Contracts, Property and other courses all blend together. He will be my motivation to stay that extra hour at the library or turn down those baseball tickets to prepare for next week’s assignments.
In college I lacked the motivation and focus to work up to my potential and my grades reflected this. At that time my priority was planning for the weekend. I can’t change that. The work was never a problem. The motivation was lacking. I have been fortunate to have success in my professional life. As a teacher I was given the autonomy to conduct my classroom as I saw fit and my students responded to my methods with great success. As a Guardian ad Litem I have worked hard to ensure that the children I, or my volunteers, represent are given the voice they deserve. As a law student I will endure rigorous training and hours of lectures, study groups, case book review and exam preparation. I will do this because I know what is driving me towards my goal.