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There are well over 500,000 children in foster care in the United States. This statistic was given in 2006. It is six years after this statistic was first given, and that is why I say ‘well over.‘ I am a former foster child, and I have a question to ask you: Are you willing to become a foster parent?
Children in foster care need a home with loving foster parents. Some have been abandoned by parents, some have been abused. Some have been taken from parents who are no longer able to care for them due to circumstances beyond their control such sickness or loss of work and the ability to take care of their family. While the parents are trying their best, there may not be sufficient needs met of the child. The death of parents can also be the reason the child is placed in foster care. The entrance of a child into foster care is not always because the child is not wanted.
I want to share this true story with you of my entrance into foster care. I loved my mother very, very much. There were times I had a lot of fun with my mother. I call those times “enjoying the moments.” My mother drank and those were the times that things were not so nice. When that would happen, around the tender age of 6, I would step into the role of acting like the mother.
My mom would become very ill as a resulting of her drinking and I would do my best to take care of her. I would go to the store (which was a few doors away from where we lived) and buy a can of chicken noodle soup. I would open the can of soup and pour it into a pot. I would boil it on top of a gas stove. Then I would pour it into a bowl and take it to my mother. Oh, I didn’t mind. This meant that she was getting better and before I know it, we would be having those enjoyable moments again.
I didn’t realize, however, that the time was swiftly approaching when I would never live with my mother again. At this time, my mother had lost her job and we were living in a hotel. One day, I came home from school and opened the door. Blood was everywhere. I stood there looking up. Blood was on the ceiling. Looked at the walls, blood was splattered all on the walls. I heard a scream that sounded like it was far away in the distance. My mouth was open and the scream was coming out of me.
Then I became conscious that people were around me and I heard someone say, “I thought you were watching out for her.”
No one was watching out for me.
I walked into the room where my mother had attempted to take her life. She cut her wrists. I thought she was dead. but one of my neighbors told me that she wasn’t. I was so happy. That was the last time I lived with my mother. I became a ward of the state. I learned that this was my mother’s third attempt at suicide. The state took custody of me to protect me. I was told that if she tried it again, she may also try to take my life.
You may never know all that a child has gone through. Some children may even think that it’s their fault that they no longer live with their parents. Entering the life of foster care is like entering into this space I call ‘disconnect.’ That is what it felt like to me. It is a place where you just exist. You breathe. You eat. You put one foot in front of the other and you just go where life leads you. It can be a lonely place.
My thoughts were everybody is happy except me. I remember crying and asking myself why can’t I have a family. I knew a girl in school name Diane. She seemed to be so happy. I wanted to change my name to Diane because I wanted to be happy like she seemed to be.
Being a former foster child, I believe one of the most powerful things a foster child can learn is that they are valuable human beings. Even though seemingly life has thrown them a hand that can be difficult and challenging, their lives can turn around to be a purposeful life.
I personally believe that youth in foster care need to know that their lives are purposeful and that God loves them. Their birth was not a mistake and that their purpose for being here could one day help others in the world. The foster parent can nurture the validation of the child’s existence by showing love, empathy, compassion and patience. It can be a very rewarding experience for a foster parent.
These children need your love. They need your help and support. Many of them pray for a home with loving parent(s). These children need hope. So I leave you with this question: Will you consider becoming a foster parent? I hope so.
In closing, I want to share this powerful scripture that comforts me, strengthens me and validates my existence as a valuable human being–no matter what anybody else says. I believe this scripture is going to comfort and strengthen you as well. This is from my heart to your heart:
Ephesians 1:5: “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” (KJV)
A couple of very powerful elements in this scripture are the adoption that takes place, and the word predestinated. One of the definitions of the word is ‘decreed by God from eternity.’ We were called forth to exist here on earth from eternity. Our birth was not a mistake and we all have purpose in being here. Our existence is validated.
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Resource for youth aging out of foster care.
Beverly Paramore is the author of many books, including, “Your Creator Loves You, Foster Child.” She has also written numerous articles for both the Christian and public sectors. Learn more at Blessing with Words.