Written by Arthur Gallant, @ArthurGallant27, CAF ambassador and former young person in care.
It’s normal for most kids and youth to have a role model, somebody they can look up to and aspire to be like. That person may be a family member, teacher, or even a celebrity. However, for kids living in foster care, their childhoods are far from normal and therefore their role models and idols may also be different from other kids.
In my previous blog “The Future Is Now” I talked about how my former lawyer (now a judge) has had a huge impact on me and helped to shape my life. I’d like to use this blog to talk a little bit more about him and how he has inspired me to become a paralegal.
I was born to a single mother with mental illness. I don’t know my father and was raised by my grandmother. When I was 9 years old the Children’s Aid Society apprehended me and court proceedings were launched in regards to my care. While I understood what was happening, I felt really special because I also had a lawyer. I mean come on, I wasn’t in trouble with the law but I had my own lawyer?! This was better than Judge Judy; I felt like I was a somebody!
After I got over the excitement of having my own lawyer whose job was to solely represent my interests, we had to get down to business. My meetings with the lawyer took place in the basement of my group home. While that was over 15 years ago, I remember how we talked about court and what was going on in my life; but I also remember how much fun I used to have with my lawyer.
I’ll never forget my lawyer telling me what drove him to become a lawyer. He wanted to become an advocate because he, too, faced challenges in his childhood and wanted to pay it forward.
Even as a 9-year-old I remember thinking that if he could overcome all the obstacles he faced, I could one day overcome all the obstacles I, too, was facing.
Throughout the years, I always thought about my former lawyer, especially when I was going through some extremely tough challenges. Thinking of him helped me push through and think: “If he could do it, I can too.” After being discharged from the Children’s Aid Society I continued to face challenges as I transitioned into adulthood.
A couple years ago, I found out through an acquaintance that my former lawyer was now a judge. My acquaintance encouraged me to write a letter to him and was sure the judge would once again inspire me, and give me the boost I so badly needed to get my life back on track and go back to school.
While the judge and I only talk every couple of months, he is still there for me, just in a different way. He doesn’t give me advice as to how I can do better, but instead he gets me to look inside myself and allows me to discover what my strengths are and what I am truly capable of.
To this day I need that boost and some days the only reason I get out of bed is because I know I have somebody there for me. Not just there to help me get through the bad and challenging days, but to help me celebrate the good days too.
I believe that we all must work hard for ourselves, but sometimes it helps when somebody else sees the good inside of us and motivates us to do better. I know I am blessed to have a role model, an idol, a mentor, and somebody who I look up to as a father. There are days in which I want to give up or don’t want to go to school, and when I face those days I think of the judge but also the ongoing support I receive from the Children’s Aid Foundation.
Every young person deserves to have a role model.