Recently, my oldest son shared their family Christmas photo. A few days later a friend shared her children's thoughts about the picture. Upon viewing the photo, her child asked, "Why don't they all look alike?" With that innocent question began an incredible journey of learning. A journey of Q & A about foster children, foster parents, and homes:
"What Are Foster Children?"
"Foster children are kids that don't live with their mommies and daddies." It is estimated that close to half a million children in the United States are in the foster care program. Fifty thousand foster children were adopted in 2011 by American families. About 54% of these children were adopted by their foster parents. It is estimated that over 150 million children worldwide are orphans.
"Why Don't They Live With Their Mommies and Daddies?"
Explaining to young children why a need for foster care exists today is not easy. The top reasons children enter foster care are: abuse, neglect, or abandonment. The sad, tragic truth is that most children in foster care are there because their biological parent's home is not a safe place; for them.
"So, They Are Their Kids Now?"
"Yes, all those kids in the picture are their kids right now." As a foster grandfather, personally witnessing the condition of some children as they enter foster care is disheartening. But after a few weeks in a loving, caring nurturing environment, the change in a child in just four weeks, is phenomenal! Foster care is really about families helping families, and providing a safe place for kids.
"What about The Foster Kids, Will They Get Presents Too?"
These words caught my ear, "What about the foster Kids?" These children so touched by the newly learned concept of "foster care" worried about the foster children getting presents for Christmas. So, followed their next question!
"Can We Use Our Christmas Money to Buy The Foster Kids Presents?"
And, with that several young children purposed with their own Christmas money to buy foster children presents for Christmas. It choked me up a bit. Kids giving needy kids presents for Christmas. What a joyful sparkle in an often dreary foster care scenario.
A Real Gift of Christmas
The real specialness (made up a heartfelt word here) is not only in these children. It's in foster parents willing to take foster children into their home. It's about the thousands of foster parent's homes across this country. Taking in neglected, abandoned, or abused children into one's home is no small easy thing! Having witnessed it myself, one might say foster care is a most disruptive, noisy, inconvenient, and worthwhile experience. It is so well worth it! Why?
"His Eyes Smile Now"
Recently, a young small foster child came into my son's home . As we discussed this neglected child void of any verbal skills, we all agreed he seemed to adjust quickly. After four weeks the change was extraordinary. He played, laugh, and interacted with the other children. Most noticeable is his incredible smile. As my son puts it, "His eyes smile now."
So, to all the foster parents, foster families, and foster workers out there making this Christmas a special Christmas for foster children, "Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays." You are my heroes.
Just My Thoughts,