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.
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.
Volunteers are an essential element of FCNI. So much so, that we have an entire department dedicated to working with the 500+ volunteers who work with us each year--some as mentors or tutors, and others who work on our fundraising events or help with administrative tasks. Our volunteers dedicate over 3,000 hours every year to our mission--that’s a lot of time, energy and compassion in motion!
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.
In my role as a Social Worker, I work as part of a team to find the best solutions and situations for the kids and families we serve. Unfortunately, during this process, we often encounter heartbreak and disappointment. But when best laid plans go awry, we turn to the backup plans, and sometimes, a Plan B ends up being the best plan of all.
Many of you know that I am a person of deep faith, identifying myself as a “follower of Christ”, rather than with modern American Christianity which I believe to be substantially tainted by selfishness, greed, self-righteousness and unscriptural political views. My convictions and belief system has been the primary driver of my life for well over five decades, and has served as one of the primary influences in my creation and oversight of the Family Care Network. That being the case, I would like to share my personal Guidelines for Living.
When Denise and Lee became adoptive foster parents, they were full of excited anticipation. While unsure of what to expect, they were excited to care for someone who truly needed them. That someone would turn out to be Cora--a nine year old girl who was placed in Emergency Shelter Care when her grandparents could no longer care for her. Without parents or other family, and after being repeatedly disappointed by life, Cora had little hope of finding a family of her own. Little did she know who was waiting for her.
We love our creative community! As most of us know, the Central Coast seems to be a breeding ground for innovative people of all types to create a variety of local businesses which make living here even more wonderful than it already is. We have amazing local restaurants, wineries, breweries, distilleries, jewelers, painters, sculptures, bakers, screenprinters, farmers, graphic designers, landscapers, photographers, film makers, musicians...this list could really go on and on for pages.
Each year, our Sponsor a Child for the Holidays giving campaign has a profound and far-reaching impact on the children, youth and families we serve. In wanting you--our community--to truly understand how meaningful, how empowering and how vital the gift cards and funds you gave are, I reached out to our families to hear from them myself what Sponsor a Child meant to them. I then sat down with and interviewed a local family who wanted to share their experience with you all; below, I share their story written from their perspective.