Today, the four of us interviewed the executive director at HOPE (Helping Other People's Enrichment). The girls colored at the table while Stephanie and I asked questions and listened.
There are roughly 6,000 children in the State of Virginia in the foster care system. HOPE is one of the private non-profits that helps match those children with foster parents. They work specifically with emotionally disturbed children.
Here is a summary of what we learned today.
We left feeling thankful for the staff at HOPE and their commitment to children, but we also had heavy hearts. On the way home, we noted that we could only think of a handful of families with foster kids.
We know lots of outstanding people with caring hearts. Many of them have advanced degrees and successful careers. They have what it takes to help save a child from being another statistic. Why don't any of them foster, we questioned? Then we asked ourselves if we should be foster parents.
Have you ever been a foster parent? Do you know any adults who were foster kids?
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I work with a set of foster parents. It's definitely not a calling for the weak at heart. It can be frustrating, rewarding and heartbreaking. I really give kudos to those who can do it over and over. My grandparents did it and I know my mom wants to, some day.
My cousin is a foster parent. She has had the midnight wake up call for a child in distress at a local hospital. She ended up adopting that child. The bond she formed with him was too strong and the mother was too unfit to keep her parental rights. It is a calling for sure. She is passionate about what she does and the children in her care are fortunate to have her.
My sister-in-law was a foster child. My husband's parents fostered several children during my husband's youth. She came to them when she was 16, and even though within a couple of years she came of age, she continued to be a part of the family. Though never formally adoped, she *is* their daughter, and my husband's sister.
We have plans to foster, once our daughters get a little older. Since our daughters were adopted, I think it is important that they are of an age where they can more maturely understand the sometimes ephemeral nature of foster care, without fear that their own situations might change similarly.
I know several Foster families. It isn't a calling I think I could answer right now, but I'm thankful for those who do. I know a few families who have started fostering after their natural children were older, it's possible we could do something like that. My heart does hurt for all those children.