Gratitude can come from suffering, hope from devastation, and intentionality from chaos.
Tag: foster parent
For the better part of five decades, I have worked with Foster Parents. This group of extraordinary, unique individuals have certainly left an indelible, positive imprint on my life. I am not sure I have the skills to craft an appropriate expression of gratitude I have for those who have turned their homes and lives into sanctuaries, hospitals, safe havens, classrooms and sometimes even battlefields for our children and youth (and not without costs)... but here I go.
I foster every day...I encourage and promote growth and healing in the lives of my bio children and in the youth who I mentor. If I were just to tell you that I foster, you probably and most likely, would think that I am talking about “foster care.”
As I have sojourned through seven decades of life, I have been in awe of the individuals who have been gifted with skills and abilities so beyond the norm. There are musicians, scientists, athletes, writers, artists; people in all walks of life who have a Special Calling to bless humanity with their unique gift. The contributions of the uniquely gifted make life rich, more meaningful and better for everyone. But, let’s not forget – each one of us has unique gifts and skills to contribute to the grand scope of life.
Lottie didn’t have a typical childhood. Growing up with her dad who lived with a medical condition that left him physically challenged meant that Lottie had to carry more of the caregiving duties because he wasn’t able. Everything in Lottie's life took a backseat to her dad's condition and needs, including school and her own social development. Eventually her dad’s condition worsened and he was moved into a full-time care facility. Without any family, Lottie was placed into foster care at the age of 14.
I wanted to write about how significant the relationship between a social worker and foster parent is. I started three other attempts to do so. I tried to make one light hearted and humorous in which I compared myself to a LEGO. Another draft, leaned more on drama. In that one, I actually described the relationship like, “A relationship forged in the fire of the foster care system.” Overly dramatic much? On my fourth attempt, I finally realized why I was having such a hard time describing it.
Right now, I am trying really hard to remain on my platform. My tolerance is gone. I am tired, achy, cold and it is taking all my might not to scream. Why all of this frustration, you might ask? After all, I am a FCNI shelter social worker. It's my job--my passion, my calling--to work with children entering Emergency Shelter Care. So why am I so frustrated and exhausted standing here outside of a foster home at 1:30 in the morning?
There is nothing more gratifying to me than to hear that a youth has been placed in a new foster home! Knowing the many months of “self-discovery” a family has weathered during the Foster Home Certification process and now, finally, they’ve come to the time of welcoming a youth, is amazing and wonderful!
As someone who has worked in the field of social work for a LONG time, I’ve encountered my fair share of amazing--amazing kids, stories, people. FCNI foster parent Maureen Nettles has to be very near the top of this “amazing” list. As a foster parent for somewhere near 25 years, she is the epitome of an individual living out her true calling--her mission, if you will.
Imagine being rudderless on a rough sea. Imagine rock climbing with no safety harness. Imagine boxing with no gloves. Imagine scuba diving with an empty tank. Imagine a house without a foundation. Now, imagine being a teenager...with no family.