Sadly, there is a great need for what we provide. I wish there weren’t. There are SO many children in this world that are being neglected, abused, and deprived of basic necessities that they need to thrive. It’s hard to describe what we do on a daily basis because every day brings with it new challenges and victories.
These kids don’t get a chance to have the foundation that we had. As an adult, I realize how important those early life lessons were as I navigate relationships, jobs, banking, and community involvement. It’s hard to “adult” as it is, imagine if you had no successful adult in your life as a child, nobody to show you how everything is supposed to work?
I grew up in a world completely different than theirs, with structure and set bedtimes, clean clothes and laundry night where we matched socks, school every day was not optional, church on Sundays and camp in the summer. I had piano lessons and twirled the baton, popcorn on Saturday nights, slumber parties and birthday cakes… I never imagined there was a world different than ours. Some of you have no idea the world they live in, but once you see it you can’t unsee it. Their world is usually filthy, filled with chaos and uncertainty, people coming and going, new paramours to get used to, moving constantly with everything they own in a trash bag. They don’t have birthday parties with cake, they have no curfew and no one to tell them when to turn out the lights and go to sleep. They fall asleep on the floor with a towel because they don’t have a bed. They sleep in their clothes because they don’t have pajamas. They don’t eat at a table they have no formal “mealtime”, they don’t eat hot and nutritious, balanced food because they get to choose what they eat and kids will choose junk food every time. They don’t have a dresser to keep their clothes in so they rummage around trying to find something clean so they always show up wrinkly. And these are the manageable things in their lives. They can figure it out and make the best of it most times. The unmanageable things are the abuses. Why their biological parent can’t stay off drugs long enough to show up for their teacher conference, or why the boyfriend gets to beat them up or sexually abuse them and the mom does nothing. Who, as a child, could understand this?? There is no lack of being told “I love you” because they throw that around like it has no value. They tell people that they are stabbing in the back for drugs that they “love them”, as they hop into their cars and drive off having stolen from them. It’s a confusing message for sure. We want them to remain innocent, with the joy of a child that hasn’t seen or lived with these frightening situations.
We want to be there for these kids to help them sort out what tangible, trustworthy, selfless love looks like. Our home is a home where children are provided with hot delicious, nutritious meals every night and sit around a table where we are interested in their stories, and we share ours, and they LEARN about family and memories and why nutrition is important. Our home is a no-phone-home where they have to unplug and play board games and ping pong or jump on the trampoline, our home is a no-hit-home where they have to learn to use their verbal skills to communicate their feelings and we “talk things out”, where discipline isn’t being hit with a wire hanger or punched in the ear or chased around the yard like a dog while someone hits them.
A home where children are loved and fully invested in. “To lovingly break the generational cycle of drug use, sexual abuse and misconduct, neglect, and government dependence through competent foster parenting, to enlist many other quality foster parents, and continue striving for drastic improvements to the current child welfare system through legislation and law.”
“In our own home, we strive to ensure that each child is safe, and healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We expect each child to graduate high school while maintaining grades that reflect the best of their abilities, we expect that they will learn basic life skills such as healthy eating and personal hygiene, the responsibilities of maintaining a home, and be involved in giving back to the community. We expect they will gain the knowledge of, and practice of, proper communication skills, appropriate conflict resolution, healthy relationship boundaries and expectations, and that they will become goal oriented citizens and advocates of love and mercy.” What you just read is the “PC” version of what we do, but the bottom line is that we love these kids like our own and we do everything we can to protect them and help them to thrive and succeed in life. That looks different for every child, but it is our highest priority and our life-long pursuit.