Coral was 11 years old when her mom, recently incarcerated, decided to relinquish her parental rights, putting Coral’s care into the hands of the state. While Coral’s life up to this point was not like her friends’ lives--her “home” was either their car or a motel room, and Coral’s mom slept most days because she’d be up all night with her friends, leaving Coral to feed and take care of herself--it was the only life she had ever known. It was familiar.
Tag: foster parents
I once worked with a youth who had been in the same foster home for about two years. By the time I joined the youth’s team, he was tired of being in his foster home and wanted to be reunited with his family. For those of us who got the honor of meeting this young man, we got to experience his joy and humor--he was a very happy young person to interact with. When I met him he’d already waited a long time and had done a lot of work to reunify with his family.
“In these chaotic times...” Over and over again, in some form or another, I come across this phrase in my conversations--when I turn on the t.v. and as I scroll through social media for just a few minutes. Fires, floods, war, rumors of wars, pandemic illness, reeling economies, scarcity of resources, and community shutdowns have all become characteristic of 2020. While several of these things stem from natural causes, I of course find myself considering the human contributions that have exacerbated them and created the others. How did we get here?
May is National Foster Care Month –– a time when we get to celebrate foster parents, a group of caring, committed people who are too often underappreciated! I count myself amongst the very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with foster families since the early 1970s. I certainly appreciate and admire all of the Amazing Families that have served children under the Family Care Network umbrella over the last 32 years. As our organization has grown, I have unfortunately been further and further removed from the day in and day out contact with our foster families.
It's not uncommon to see two youthful brothers fighting. On the way to dinner, they push each other to see who gets there first. At the table, they argue about who got the bigger piece of pie. On the way to the park, they fight about who will carry the football; it never occurs to them to agree to let one of them carry it to the park and the other back home. There is no interest in "reasonable" solutions; it's all about contention. And sometimes the contention gets excessive.
“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
One Friday in 1957, just before school was out for the year, my Mom scooped my sister and me up from school unexpectedly. Our Dodge Sierra station wagon--you know the kind with the small fins and turquoise panels--was packed full of stuff; lots of stuff. She said we were off on an adventure; wow, this sounded exciting!
This month I had the immense privilege of being invited to be the Social Media Ambassador for the Family Focused Treatment Association’s (FFTA) annual conference. I anticipated that the event would be inspiring on many levels, digging into policy, advocacy, foster care, trauma-informed care, working with LGBTQ youth (and the list of relevant workshop topics goes on). While these workshops were fresh, relevant and well-presented, what really made the whole event special was all of the people I met.
“Foster Care” has come a long way over the past couple of centuries and is yet experiencing another significant transformation. Foster care in the USA has its origins in English Poor Law, which basically allowed an abandoned or orphaned child to be forced into indentured servitude until they became of age. Kids basically became slaves for the individuals housing them. The argument in favor of this practice was that this arrangement provided children with the “basic skills they needed to survive in life.” America’s first foster child was Benjamin Eaton, age 7, in the Jamestown Colony.
May is National Foster Care Month and our Foster Parents deserve great appreciation – they do an amazing, mostly unrecognized and unrewarded job. There aren’t too many folks willing to open up their home to a complete stranger who has been traumatized, who may have serious mental and/or emotional needs, or who presents some very challenging, difficult to manage behaviors. However, thankfully thousands of families still decide to foster parent with incredible results. And we should all be very thankful that they do.