Wasn’t sure how to present this story to you, as it came upon me all of a sudden. I didn’t want to wait till Christmas, and I didn’t want to rattle the comforts of what we take for granted on Thanksgiving.
But I got disturbed pondering all of the foster children out there, waiting for a good home or a great mentor to make them feel optimistic about the future. Through no fault of their own, they have been placed away from their parents in a different environment.
Each one of them wanting nothing but love and attention.
Some sobering statistics, which garnered my attention: on any given day, there are 428,000 children in foster care in the United States. In 2015, over 670,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care. On average, children remain in state care for nearly two years and six percent of children in foster care have languished there for five or more years before being reunited with their families or being adopted.
About 40,000 infants each year go to foster care. And each year 23,000 kids will turn 18 and “age out” out of foster care.
I cannot fathom being a ward of the state, as I grew up in a stable, two parent home my entire life. It’s been said the state just isn’t equipped to be a parent. They can’t even balance a budget!
We face greater problems ahead. A typical foster parent is in their mid 50s. As the population ages, there are a dearth of younger families who want to adopt. Families are having children later in life, and they remain dependents well into their 20s in this “societal shift.” Thus the period of years that can be devoted to foster care is getting less and less. Having a spare bedroom is unaffordable for many families.
As you munch on that drumstick, pour on the gravy, and make a toast to your well being, just take a moment to think what it’s like to be taken away from everything you’ve ever known. Even if the family was a neglectful or abusive one. Transplanted to strangers in a strange place can be terrifying. Foster children have no control over their lives and that causes continual insecurity.
In a nutshell, there aren’t enough good foster homes to go around. These kids need committed adults to make a difference in their lives. Like your own kids, they want someone to help them with homework, take them to sports activities, provide a home cooked meal. Tuck them into bed.
I read about these kids and tried to put myself in their shoes and get a feel about what they are going through. What is Thanksgiving, Christmas, a birthday like for them?
It bothered me enough to realize I’ve been blessed with so much and given back too little. It’s a gut check — something we all have to do on occasion. This time I picked Thanksgiving, and as you know, I can go on tangents at anytime or any place.
Perhaps this a poor analogy, but working at a car dealership I see cars and trucks — some old, some new — sit for days, sometimes months without anyone giving it a second glance. But then, out of nowhere, you get several people interested in the same vehicle, which sat forever!
It’s probably the same for foster children. Waiting, moving from place to place with belongings thrown into plastic bags. Yearning for a permanent spot like that vehicle finding a new garage and owner who will cherish it.
Look, I didn’t mean to ruin your cozy Thanksgiving Day, but I’ve written enough about the turkey, the pumpkin pie, the touch football in the backyard, the relatives coming over. It was time for a change up. Like carving up capon instead of the other bird.
Kudos to the families in Lycoming County who have made a difference and made a foster child one of their own. A huge high five from me! Having one extra smiling, grateful face at your table must be soooooo fulfilling.
Making a difference in a difficult world is a worthy endeavor.