I am a foster child, I say that because at 18 months old I was thrown into the foster care system with my four brothers and sisters. Back then we were separated right away and went through our lives as children apart from one another. When I was 18 I aged out of the foster care system and I am proud to say that even without any help I am one of the 13 percent of kids who age out of foster care and make it to college.
I know how important it is for a foster child to have stability in their life and to have a family. I know how much it means to that child to have someone believe in them and only want the best for them. To forgive them often and love them through the rough times and the good. To this day I still feel very much alone. My aunt and uncle who took me as a child made it clear when I was young that they were only helping me because they had to. When the going got tough I was sent from California to Oklahoma and placed in a shelter.
Have you ever seen a city shelter for foster kids? Probably not. It was right next to the courthouse. The same judge who had my case my entire life was standing before me. If I messed up this was it. I was doomed to be lost in the system and I was.
That particular shelter broke my spirit, I happened to have one of the girls I met write me after she left and sent me this picture from our Christmas there. I was there during Christmas in 2001, and I remember the “normal kids” came. They had all bought us presents. During this time us older kids were able to hang with the little kids, there were more of them than us older teens. They kept us separated most days although we could see their TV area from ours through the open metal bars.
That night I remember this little girl in a pink dress. She kept trying to cuddle up to one of the staff and she kept pushing her away. I saw this happen so many times, and my heart broke for her. This little girl, she had no parents and she had only wanted someone to show her love. This broke my spirit, and that night as I cried myself to sleep I said that day that one day I would look back and everything would be different. I found out yesterday that everything is different, the state of California just passed a law to close all state run shelters and I cried happy tears.
Here I am at 30 years old and I have three little girls of my very own. Yesterday I had a great conversation with one of the directors at Aspiranet and their mission to to help strengthen children and families lives. Their mission is to help support communities and families as they help care for children. Their system of Family Services, adoption, foster care, and community programs to connect and enhance the lives of the people they serve.
More than ever my heart wants to open my life up to other foster children. When I started college years ago my goal was to become a social worker and make a difference. That will to help children has never gone away and I hope one day to open my home and my heart to other foster children.
The need is greater than ever for families who want to open their hearts and their homes to children through foster care. With foster care you can make a real impact on lives. More than ever you can help children and families right in your community with foster care.
What I have come to learn is that every child matters. They need love and support. Foster Care doesn’t mean you’re obligated, it’s about helping a young mom find her way back to her children and being there for them along the way. Aspiranet is there to help if adoption is an option they help with that. They will even help ordinary families start the process and help them through the process of becoming a foster parent.
Please take a moment and visit the Aspiranet website. You can easily give a contribution, volunteer, find how how to become a foster parent or find help with adoption.
I am working with Aspiranet on this compensated post although the story and opinions are my own.