There have been times in my life when I didn’t have toilet paper. I usually had a roof over my head (even if it was a carroof), but we didn’t always have finished floors. Did you know that the term “dirt poor” is an Americanism from the 1930s referring to someone living in a house that has a dirt floor? In the United States in the 1990s, I was dirt poor, fleeing from one terrifying temporary non-home to another. Being dirt poor is not just a third world condition, it’s not just a Great Depression Era throw-back, and it doesn’t exclude any race.
At 12, twins, Kyle and Nick, were very different. Kyle was quick to react—verbally and physically—without much regard for others. While Nick, painfully shy, often let Kyle do all the talking (and reacting) for him. The boys had been placed in Emergency Shelter Care when it was discovered that their parents were unable to provide them with a safe and stable home. In care, both boys displayed the trauma that they experienced through their behaviors--Kyle became more aggressive and Nick withdrew almost completely.
I’m sure we’ve all heard a lot of different words to describe foster parents and/or foster parenting. Hopefully phrases such as, “hearts of gold” and “selfless heroes” outnumber the negative and inaccurate sentiments that too often plague this noble and challenging life choice many (but not enough) make.
Sadly, some kids just get dealt a bad hand in life, through no fault of their own. Clay was one of those kids. He first ended up in foster care when his parents were arrested for using and selling drugs. At the time, Clay’s aunt and uncle stepped forward to give five year old Clay a home. But after many years with the family, Clay’s uncle was arrested for domestic violence and his aunt, severely traumatized, could no longer care for Clay. Now 15, Clay was again placed into foster care for his safety.
I named the “Family Care Network” with a specific intent. FAMILY is our most important social institution and every effort should be made to support and strengthen families. A society exhibiting the disintegration of Family, is a society at great risk! The health of families is the most important ingredient to a healthy civil society. The stronger our family structure, the stronger and healthier we are as a nation. There is no disagreement--every child needs a healthy family! Let’s do our best to make sure this happens.
As I stated in Part One, America’s system for caring for foster children is in serious need of change. The system is based on archaic practices, often contrary to the best interest of children and contradictory to current science; and by and large, does more damage than benefit to children! But, I do believe there is the will and opportunity to improve our Child Welfare-Foster Care system, and here is how we should do it.
When sharing why I have been so invested and involved in Miracle Miles for Kids every year for the past twelve years, I have to go back to why I worked at Family Care Network for a season.
America’s system for caring for foster children is in serious need of a change. Our current system is based on archaic practices, often contrary to the best interest of children and contradictory to current science; and by and large, does more damage than benefit to children!
As we conclude National Social Worker Appreciation Month, I would like to present another picture of the Family Care Network, and the environment in which our Social Workers and other clinical staff operate. As a Human Service Organization, how we SERVE is mission-critical. But for us this term has a double entendre, SERVE is also an acronym for the domains that define how we serve, plan, evaluate and implement important changes. In essence, SERVE is the framework that supports the Family Care Network.
We did not start our marriage necessarily intending to adopt. We experienced infertility, but quickly realized that there were many ways to become parents. When we learned about the countless number of girls in orphanages in China that needed a family we decided to pursue adopting internationally. It took five years to adopt our now eleven year old daughter, and once we became parents we knew we wanted to adopt more kids.