Becky Robertson isn’t your typical new mom.
“My husband and I had plans as soon as I turned 60 years old, we were talking about going and getting a fifth wheel and going and travelling,” said Robertson, just shy of her 60th birthday.
Now the Fruitland Park couple has traded in that fifth wheel trailer for a big wheel and five kids.
Robertson had been a foster parent for two decades and always appreciated the court-appointed advocate for her child, known as a Guardian ad Litem.
So, a few years ago she started volunteering for the program and agreed to take on one of the more challenging cases for the circuit: five children whose parents were likely to lose custody of their kids, and eventually did.
“My goal was always if the children couldn’t be reunified, I wanted them to go into a good loving family," Robertson said. "All five siblings together where they could grow and thrive.”
But after consulting with her husband, a train engineer in his 60s, the Robertsons decided to adopt the children, ages 2, 4, 5, 7 and 9.
That meant Robertson has had to give up her position as a guardian ad litem, leaving the agency even more in need of child advocates.
In recent months, the number of children in the dependency system has risen. Currently, over 1,600 children are in the dependency system in Marion, Citrus, Lake, Sumter and Hernando Counties. Because of these increases, these children need more volunteers. They have been removed from their homes due to allegations of abuse or neglect.
"Anyone out there thinking I want to do this but I don’t want to end up adopting children, you don’t have to," Robertson said. "That was just our case and our hearts.”
This weekend, Robertson, who gave birth to her first child almost 40 years ago, will celebrate her first Mother’s Day with the five children. Four-year-old Cassie gave her an early present from her toddler kitchen Friday.
“Happy Mother’s Day," she said.
Oh thank you, that's my favorite," Robertson responded.
Free training for those interested in volunteering will be held July 24-25 at On Top of the World in Marion County. Training is offered in varying locations each month.
To register, or for more information about how to become a Guardian ad Litem volunteer, contact Sarah Jay, Director of Recruitment at 352-274-5231 or email@example.com.