In the United States, there are over 400,000 children in the foster system. Over 400,000 lives left in the balance. I am not writing this to try and persuade you to help. I only want to share with you a few of the things I have learned.
Many consider DHS to be a broken system. It has its flaws just like any other government run entity.
But what many fail to understand is that DHS is at the mercy of the courts. The court system pulls the strings, and we all merely dance. Social workers are overworked and underpaid. They stand as gatekeepers and see more horror than most of us could imagine. Yet they show up to work day in and day out. To light a candle in a darkened world.
So what does this have to do with learning patience?
The system takes time. A lot of time.
We waited 2 years from the time our son’s mother told the judge that she would give up her rights to when we were finally able to adopt. And from other stories that I have heard, this was quick. When you are on someone else’s timeline, the waiting, the uncertainty of the future, can be extremely stressful. Repeated court continuances, without any sign of progress, can drive you mad.
My wife drove 7 hrs (leaving the other kids and me in Florida on vacation) to take our son to court once. She was told that he had to be present. She was inside for 5 minutes before being asked to take him outside because he was only 1 and was disruptive to court. After everyone came out, she asked what happened and was told that there was a continuance (which basically means nothing happens and you come back to court in 3 months). So, she drove 7 hours back to Florida to enjoy the rest of the vacation.
It’s times like these you are glad that you practice gratitude.
It’s times like these you grow in character.
You learn to be patient.
Resistance comes from strange places. Not everyone will be on board with what you are doing. That is OK. It’s not about them, and it’s not about you. It’s about the kids.
Please don’t feel the need to tell me why you aren’t a foster parent. I am not judging you. You be you, and I will be me.
Please don’t feel the need to tell me that you could never be a foster parent because you care too much and could never see the kid leave. This makes it sound like we don’t care as much. I know that’s not what you mean, but it still feels awkward.
The opposite of resistance is support.
You find support in all kinds of places. Families become closer. Friendships grow. Communities are built.
When you stay in your safe place, you can never truly know what it’s like to find light in the darkness. Trusting people and having them meet your expectations is an amazing experience. Don’t be so jaded that you guard yourself and miss out on this experience.
Happiness is not joy. Happiness is what happens on the surface. Joy is what you find underneath. If you only seek happiness, you will never know joy. If you seek joy, you will be ultimately happy.
Sometimes sacrifice of the self is required. Maybe you don’t always grin and bear it. But the journey can be worth it and the destination is priceless.
Our house is chaos and adventure. The other day I had a visitor. The children were in full force. Loud and enthusiastic. Running and jumping and throwing things. I could see the look on his face. He was not used to this. I was sipping on my coffee and could barely notice the noise. But I knew what he was thinking. I gave him a slight grin and he laughed.
What would life be without the laughter of these children bouncing around the walls of our home?
You can find joy in each moment. Be mindful. Be aware. It’s OK to love and to hurt. Be free to grow. Be free to experience true joy.
Family is what you make it. Blood ties are nothing but genetic principles and biochemical happenstance. Black, White, Native, Hispanic, Asian. Does any of it even matter anymore? Sure, there are cultural differences at play. But our family is our tribe. We play by our rules and no one else’s. We design our culture.
The nuclear family exploded long ago, and now we are left to pick up the pieces and build something better. To stare down the obstacles before us and to overcome.
5. kids need a home
This should’ve been the first thing listed. It’s the most important. Kids need a safe place to grow and to feel love. They may only get this experience for a few months. But however long it lasts, you can be the one to provide it.
I had no idea how many kids, just in this state, need a home. It’s daunting. It will break your heart. It takes brave people to step in and help.
You can be one of those people.
“When nothing is owed, deserved or expected. And your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected. If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected. Decide what to be and go be it.”
The Avett Brothers
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