I’ve been getting a lot of e-mails as of late asking me questions about fostering, the process, challenges we face, and about our personal experience. I figure that it would be easier for me to answer some of these questions openly on the blog so that if there are others with the same questions, they can read too! Enter: the weekly Why Foster?. Once a week I’ll either answer a question that I’ve received, talk about reasons that people shy away from fostering, or give you a good reason that you should foster (I’m good at this one!). So….here it goes.
The latest numbers show that at any given time there are approximately 510,000 children in foster care. About 51% of those kids are likely to be in foster care for more than a year. That means that at any given time, there are half of a million children experiencing the worst year of their entire lives. They feel alone, confused, sad, angry. Some of these kids will go to homeless shelters because the foster care agency cannot find an open foster home for them. Homeless shelters. For children. By themselves. Another handful of these kids will go to foster homes that don’t really care. I worked in the system, and I saw these foster home more often than not. Foster homes that are ‘in it for the money’ or have become so jaded that they cannot offer love. Homes that I would not want to live in.
One of my very favorite quotes is from a book called “Turning Stones” by Marc Parent. As a social worker in New York he says:
You hear about children falling through the cracks in the system. Let me tell you something: there is no system, there are only people – children don’t fall through cracks, they fall through fingers. The person who says “fell through the cracks in the system” is really saying that someone blew it and that the blame is going to be spread so broadly that accountability will fall to no one.
In opposition to the foster care system, I often hear people say that the government should not be responsible for foster care or for taking care of these children. And they are right. We should be responsible. You and I. And these kids, they’re falling through our fingers.
I realize this is an intense post. I’m not writing this to make anyone feel guilty. Just to open eyes to the need, and the hurt, and the reality. I also realize that not everyone is called to fostering. But I don’t say that to let you off the hook.
What an awesome opportunity to serve. What a blessing to get to be a part of these children’s lives. Don’t ask yourself if it would be comfortable. Because it won’t be. Don’t ask yourself if it would be convenient. Because it won’t be. Don’t ask yourself if it will be easy. Because it won’t be. DO ask yourself if you want to make change for the good, if you want to help kids who don’t know love, if you want to share the love you have.
Cause there’s no doubt you have love to give.
(Again, I realize that fostering is not for everyone. It is just in my soul to advocate for these kids. If you have questions about fostering, or something you would like me to talk about on the blog, please don’t hesitate to comment or to e-mail me – I’m happy to answer any questions I can! )