Many of us remember the classic movie “Annie.”
We’ve recently introduced our kids to this classic musical, and they loved it! It’s one of those movies that as adopted children, they can relate to, which just like children’s books, are hard to find. You know the newer classic books like, “Love You Forever” and so many great little picture books about getting ready for a a baby and bringing a child home from the hospital just don’t fit their lives. Rare finds like the Robbie the Rabbit books Robbie’s Trail through Foster Care, Wanting to Belong, Moving to Another Foster Home, and Robbie’s Trail through Adoption are the few they can relate to.
There’s a great line by Miss Hannigan in “Annie” when she says, “Why anyone would want to be an orphan is beyond me!” The same can be said about foster kids. I once wrote a blog about not judging foster children and posed the question,
how would you behave if…
Instead of being held and played with you were lying in a hospital with broken ribs? You were taken from everything and everyone you knew and taken to a stranger’s house…repeatedly? You never knew where or with whom you’d be living on your next birthday or Christmas? You were abandoned or beaten by those who were supposed to love you? The few belongings you have are packed in trash bags to go to your next home?
…and several other circumstances that our kids or their friends had been through.
As I pondered this line by Miss Hannigan the other day, I thought it’s not just the kids in this situation. So many people are involved with foster care, from the extended family longing to see the children, to the overworked caseworkers, to the foster parents who are caring for traumatized children and paid less than a kennel gets for a dog, to the judges who are making decisions on situations they have not personally seen that could actually be life or death decisions.
The month of May is a time our nation’s leading child welfare organizations have set apart to bring awareness to foster care issues, to educate the public, to recognize the heroes working in this field, and to garner more support.
This is the first May in several years that we (Darren and Margie) are not licensed foster parents or leading the foster care support and resource organization we founded in Southern Illinois. However, this month is still very important to us and to others on the Whitestone Inn staff who have adopted and/or fostered.
There are so many myths and misconceptions surrounding foster care, foster children, caseworkers, and foster parents. Here are some national statistics.
- At any given time, there are over 400,000 children who, through no fault of their own, are being cared for in the United States foster care system.
- Over 100,000 of these children are legally free for adoption and are waiting to be adopted.
- Around 30,000 children each year turn 18, age out of the system without being adopted, and are left with no family support. The statistics on what happens to these young adults are devastating.
It is a system that is constantly changing due to changes in budgets and societal and cultural norms. There is much work to be done to make foster care in our country better. Organizations around the country are striving to improve foster care and the lives of all those involved. There are many ways that you can help without being a foster parent, whether you have just a few minutes, a day, or much more time. You can change a lifetime.