People Places Perspectives

Just Do It: Become a Foster Parent

Fostering Children in VirginiaWritten by: Kindall Stevenson, Marketing, Advertising & Recruitment Specialist

When I began working in the field of foster care, I knew very little about the system and process outside of my own, personal interest in fostering and adopting one day. During my year and a half tenure working for People Places as the Marketing, Advertising, and Recruitment Specialist, I have learned so much about the steps that need to be taken, the logistics of placements, the depths of each child’s situation, and the EXTREME need for people who are willing to open their homes to local youth in a time of unimaginable need.

Children are often ripped from their homes (their entire worlds) because of circumstances beyond their control. In fact, over 400,000 children in the United States alone are in care at any given time.

Let that sink in… Over 400,000 faces of our nation’s future, our neighbors, our students, our friends, and fellow human beings are unsure of what to call home or where they will land after school each day.

The goal of foster care is always to work towards reunification with the birth families and this is often a success. However, in the cases where this is not a feasible outcome, our kiddos and teens can be adopted by foster parents or other family members. Sadly, and too frequently, this is not the happy ending each child/youth/teen experiences. Many of the children in care, age of out the system without ever finding permanency and “home.”

Working in this field- hearing the sometimes horrific and heartbreaking stories of these children and their young life journeys, does haunt me at night. I lose countless hours of sleep wondering if I am doing enough to help and what else can be done to prevent these situations from happening. I see children in CVS and wonder if they are properly cared for and if anyone in their lives let them know how worthwhile, special, and valued they are.

These questions have made me appreciate my own upbringing more and more with each day that passes, and I hug my three young nieces especially hard every time I see them. Whenever we read a bed time story or get ready for t-ball, swim team, or dance lessons- I want to impress upon them that they have a bright future, a family that loves them, and that there are others who are not as fortunate, who they have a responsibility to help one day.

I know there are good people in this world; I see them every day. I surround myself with friends who are outstanding examples of what humankind can and should be… and yet, there are still hundreds of thousands of children shoving their limited belongings into a trash bag, provided by a social worker, as they are removed from the only home and family they have ever known.

What can we do? We can open our minds to the idea of caring for someone else’s child/children, for a period of time, while their parents try to correct whatever behaviors and/or situation caused their removal. We can provide safe, loving, and stable places for children who may have never been given a new pair of shoes, been thrown a birthday party, gone to a pool or park, or even told “I love you.”

The things some of these children have experienced are unfathomable and occur in a time when they should be doing things like: climbing trees, catching lightening bugs, and playing in massive, living room forts.

I hear people say all the time, “I would love to help, but I’m too busy right now. I’m going to wait to commit.” … While that sentiment is great: you are interested, you have a heart to serve those in need, and you know you want to revisit the idea… you are still waiting for a more convenient time, while these children can’t wait. Their crisis is real… and it’s right now.

If you are interested in learning more about foster care, please contact us! We ALWAYS need families of all compositions! You can be married, single, already a parent, have no children, heterosexual, homosexual, elderly, young, etc.

They really do need you, and I know- because I’ve seen it on their faces.

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