Jeremiah turned 4 on Tuesday! He was so excited about his birthday- what a sweet little guy, I love him so much. He has truly blessed my life.
It's Spring Break around these parts, and while it got off to a rocky start because kids were sick with a stomach bug, I think things are finally starting to turn around! We decided to venture out to Eagle Creek today. Even though it was a bit chilly, the kids had fun running around, climbing trees, visiting the nature center, and just being kids.
Having sick kids made me start to think of some other kids out there that I have known- who didn't have it nearly as good as my own kids when they were sick. Nobody to truly care if they had a raging fever, or to hold their hair back as they vomited for the 15th time, or to clean up the sheets when they didn't quite make it to the toilet…
I used to work in a home for foster children. The specific area I worked in was a home that housed 10 girls, aged 8-14, who were so badly damaged by people in their lives that were supposed to love them, that they ended up living in a maximum security group home setting, where they had limited privileges, and basically no chance to ever be adopted, or even live in a "normal" foster care setting again. It was a sad and dreary place. Being an empathetic, loving person I tried very hard to make these girls feel loved and accepted. I praised them, did fun things with them, tried to talk with them. But I was only part time- very part time- in their lives. My attention was divided between 10 girls & 18 hours per week. Not much time to foster meaningful relationships.
I think of these girls sometimes. They are all young adults now, most likely have aged out of the system. Most likely having nobody to call family. Do they have children of their own? How is that going for them- did they learn life skills? Nurturing skills? How to be a good employee? A wife? A mother?
I imagine being a foster parent is very difficult. I have never been one- I only worked in a secure setting, I never had to truly deal with the major issues that can arise. I know that none of the girls I worked with could have ever been brought home to live with my own children. Their pasts were too volatile. They would have hurt my children- they had already hurt other children. So what could have been done with them? I don't know the answer. But I do know that many of these girls were transferred from home to home to home, having no stability. Always pushing the limits- waiting until someone would just give them back. They trusted nobody, and pushed everyone away on purpose.
There was one girl in particular I remember. She was a sweet girl, one of the youngest. Reading her case history would make any normal person want to go ballistic. Her life was one tragedy after another. So much vile abuse...things I couldn't even imagine an adult could do to a child was done to this poor girl. She was damaged. Her first set of foster parents tried- but they just couldn't meet her needs. They returned her. The next set of foster parents ultimately wound up physically abusing her. By the time she went to live with the third set, she started abusing other children. I wonder if the first set of foster parents had kept her and figured out how to help her, establish that trust-- would she have turned into an abuser herself? I'm not blaming the first set of foster parents for how this girl turned out, but I often wondered if they had the proper education in how to deal with needs as deep as hers were. The last thing she needed was to be abandoned again.
I have no profound conclusion here. I have just been thinking about the issue. Right now in Indiana alone, there are over 9,000 kids in the foster care system. It just makes me really sad. There are 9,000 kids feeling sad, alone,unwanted,unsafe, abandoned. I'm not suggesting people run out right now and become foster parents. Sadly, I think people are too emotional and impulsive about the decision. We want to make a difference, but we don't have the skills to do it, and perhaps create bigger problems.
I would like to be a foster parent some day. I don't think it's my time though- too many little ones at home to care for. There are so many suffering children out there.