I believe I am quite qualified to answer the above question. I was raised within the foster care system of Michigan from birth until I aged out. By the age of eleven I had been placed with eight different foster families, one family I was placed with three different times. Though I have very few memories of most the families, as I was too young, I have enough to know who the vast majority of foster families are.
Let me tell you who they are.
They, the overwhelming majority, are not the monsters some people think they are. They don’t do it for money, or for fame, or for people to look at them or notice them.
They don’t do it to be popular or to be noticed by other people. Neither do they do it to obtain a privilege or a gift, or just for pity.
They are not the bad people of the system.
They are the ones that open the door of their home to what it is at that time just a story told by someone on the other side of the phone; just a faceless child in need.
That’s all they know, just a story of something that shouldn’t happen, but it did happen. A thing that no one wants to hear or think about it, but that they choose to live with because an innocent heart has been broken. A heart whose only “sin” was to ask to be loved by mom and dad, but yet (in many cases) were punished, tormented or crippled by those that were supposed to love and protect them.
They are the ones that cry alone when it’s time go on with life and feel in their own flesh, because after all that is what their heart is made of, the pain of the physical, emotional, sexual and any kind of abuse that a child has suffered. The only answer they can offer in answer to the tear from an innocent heart that just asks why, is just another tear from the bottom of their heart.
They are the ones that many would like to see disappear and not disturb their lives and tranquility while they are eating in their favorite restaurant. Their eyes tell them that neither they nor their children are welcome for whatever reason. They don’t say it out loud, yet their eyes scream from deep inside their souls. Screams that foster parents have learned not to listen to; where were they when a child cries because its tummy was empty and all one could hear was the sound of an empty stomach.
They are the ones that are there when it is the child’s first time on many things you will probably think are warranted for every human being. Yet they were not for many of them.
They are the ones that raise their voices and begs for help and understanding, for patience and caring, for wisdom and temperance, for gentleness and goodness, for meekness and for mercy.
They are the ones that just asks anyone that would listen to have faith in those who has been suffering for (the children) as long as they have been in this world. They wish to only give joy, peace and love to those whose mother sometimes just look them straight into their eyes when they were just born and told the nurse take it away, I don’t want it because I don’t love it.
Some are thrown in the trash can, some are tied like animals, some are hit with just about anything, their bodies forever will bare the marks of the bonding and torture, some are mentally abused in ways that they would prefer to just die than rather live, some are sexually abused, some are doped, while others…you get the idea!
They are not their foster children, cause for as long as they have the blessing of having them in their home, they are their sons and daughters. Their children and they treat them like their own even though they were not born in the family; they bless foster parents lives with their smile. That is a reward that will be with them, in their heart, for as long as they live. For them they are angels for they am not forgetful to entertain strangers because without being aware of it, they have entertained God’s angels.
So the next time you are going on by your business and you see this couple with a Latino child, with an African-American child, with an Anglo child, an Oriental child, along with a baby from any corner of this Earth, don’t stare at them like they come from another planet. Don’t think it was a wild night for one of the two; don’t go over your racial issues, or just hope they go away because they are too noisy.
Trust me they don’t need any of that nor are they going to go away. You will do yourself a favor as well as a favor to them if you just look at them straight into they eyes and thank them for what they are doing.
Trust me, it will mean a lot!
They are Foster Parents for whom we should all be grateful they choose to do what many would not…love, care for and raise a child or children not of their blood.
They, the foster parents, are the backbone and heroes of a system in dire need of reform. If it were not for the foster parents even more children would be lost today than are already lost. Yes, as with all segments of our society, there are bad apples in the field. However, they are in the very small minority.
I thank God for families so openly and willingly opening their home to us…the throw away kids of our society.