Have you ever read one of those stories about the toddler who was critically dehydrated after being left alone in a crib for days, crying while her mother got high? Or the one about the eight year old boy who was hospitalized after being beaten by his father with a baseball bat? Did you think to yourself “somebody should do something about that?”
Did you find yourself outraged after reading a story about a child being taken from their family on trumped up charges? Did you wonder why someone doesn’t help grown ups deal with addiction or mental illness so that their children could live safely with them?
What about that story about how the foster care system is filled with cold, uncaring social workers who lose track of where children are placed? Or about the greedy foster parents who spend the foster stipend money on themselves while feeding the kids just once a day? Did you think to yourself “somebody should do something about that?”
I read these stories. I was outraged. I thought somebody should do something. Then, I realized that I am somebody. I became a foster parent. A good one (or least to the best of my ability). I love the children, care for them, advocate for them at their schools or therapist’s office or in the courts. I advocate for their biological parents, too, helping them get their voices heard, their needs met, and have a real chance at getting their children back. I volunteer to help out the foster care agency and help train new foster parents.
You could do this, too. All you have to do is Be Somebody.
If you want child abuse to end. If you want families going through hard times to be given a fair chance. If you want the “system” to work as well as it can.
All you have to do is Be Somebody, the somebody who steps forward to be a foster parent.
This post is part of the Adoption Talk Link Up on the topic of foster care / adoption memes. Check out the link for other great voices on foster care and adoption!
My biological daughter has been struggling with the placement of two foster children in our home. So do I regret taking in these foster kids? No. And here’s why.
My bio daughter Sassy is 13. Thirteen is a tough age. It’s the time in our life that we realize life isn’t all sunshine and smiles as we had believed thanks to watching too much My Little Ponies and our parents diligent efforts to shield us from the bad things lurking out there. But boogie men really do exist. We call them rapists, drug dealers, murderers, and thieves. Other “boogie men” are addiction and mental illness. Some boogie men hurt children and some of those hurt children end up in foster care. That’s the hard facts of life.
Sassy was already learning that the world can be cruel. She was learning about anorexia, drunk driving, bullying, and war.
Learning that some parents abuse and neglect their children has been tough. But it has provided a way for my husband and me to teach Sassy how to respond to life’s ugly side. We stand up to bad things and fight for what’s right. We realize that our efforts may seem like a drop in the bucket, but we will make sure it’s the right bucket. And it makes a difference. Sassy can see the impact we are having on Joyful’s and Watchful’s lives.
We’ve sought therapy for Sassy to help guide her through this dark side of the human experience. She has been exploring how she wants to respond to nastiness, and we’ve been right by her side, sharing our values with her. Our conversations with her have pulled us closer together than ever. As we coach her in how to be a sister to a hurt child, we are amazed by her personal growth. Her empathy and patience have dramatically increased. It’s amazing to watch your child’s blossoming passion for doing what’s right.
So am I sad that Sassy is struggling? Yes, like any parent, I wish I had a magic wand to make all the boogie men disappear. But reality confronts us all as we turn from children into adults. As parents, our job is to help our kids become the best possible people they can be.
And foster care is helping my daughter become an adult that I truly admire.