Foster Care – It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way!

As many of you know, there are two things that I am passionate about….foster care and adoption.   Did you know that it would take less than 1% of American Households to empty the Foster Care System?  That blows my mind.  Its what I tweeted this week in the hopes of reaching other like minded people.  And, happily I found a few.  Yay!  Hopefully, together we can make a difference.

Seriously people, we CAN do this!  We’re talking less than 1%.  Why are so many kids in foster care?  Without permanent homes? Why aren’t there enough foster familes?  Well, I don’t have all the answers.  However, having been a foster parent myself, I do believe it has a lot to do with lack of information, mis-information, and fear. 

I was so moved and felt compelled to write this blog after stumbling upon this emotional video on youtube (yes, get the tissues).  I think this is what Brandy Mychals was talking about this week in her blog.  I am compelled Brandy.  This is the kind of stuff that brings me to tears and breaks my heart.  And, my hope is that you will feel complled too.  I am not saying you have to be part of the 1% and become a Foster Parent, but please take the time to hear what the kids are saying.  If it moves you and you feel you can help by spreading the word, telling a friend, having a new clothes drive, collecting backpacks for school, used suitcases, or learning what repsite care is about, all of these things can have a huge impact! 

It may be that the fear is based on the assumption that the kids did something wrong or that they’re bad kids.  Sure, there are always a few misguided kids in the world, and not only in foster care!  So, I’d like to stress that these kids are not a bunch of bad kids!  It is NOT their fault.  They are innocent victims of their home life situation and thrown into the Foster Care System!  They are taken away from the only people they know.  They are scared.  In many instances they get moved around…a lot!  Their lives get turned upside down often.  All in a matter of minutes.  It takes time to adjust.  Can you imagine moving 5-10 times within a year?!  To total strangers- each time?  Always keeping a suitcase (if your lucky,  otherwise its garbage bags!) packed.  How would that affect you emotionally?  I can’t even go there.

And, its not just older kids in foster care.  There are new borns, toddlers, and tweens!  They are innocent children unable to help themselves in need of loving homes.  They crave moms, dads and siblings to feel a sense of connection, to be part of a family.  The ONE thing common to all kids (foster or not) is that they want to be LOVED.

These kids learn from an early age that they are not in control of their future or their destiny.  Fraceska says of foster care – ‘its just hard.”  Christa said I want to feel secure.  As I said, these kids are in desperate need of capable caring people to love them and guide them in their journey through life.

In the video Cassandra said, someone doesn’t have to be my blood family to know they are going to be there for me and not leave.  She feels she is too old to find a family who will adopt her.  She says it hurts.  HOW sad is that at such a young age?!  Like her, I wish there was some magic answer.  There is not.  However, I believe together, we can all make a difference in the life of a child….no matter how small…it all adds up.

Every child in foster care is looking for a guardian angel, to feel secure, to know they have a permanent home, to feel they are loved.  I can’t imagine being so young, so afraid, so lost and so desperate.  As Christa says, we need more good Foster Parents, they have so much love in them, they are angels, like guardian angels.

These are the children of the future.  They are victims.  We need to support and protect them in any way we can.  And, conveniently, May is Foster Care Awareness Month…..what better time to “start” making a difference….just saying:)

So, to my friends and fellow bloggers thanks for listening to my rant….and hopefully being part of the solution.  It’s always greatly appreciated.

To the Foster Kids, those in the system, and aging out, I want you to know that we think about you, we care about you, we are pulling for you, and we want the best for ALL of you.  You are loved!  We care.  And, together we are trying to make a difference. 

Hang in there,

Rita

Have you ever thought about being a foster parent?  Know anybody who has fostered?  Want to learn more about fostering?  Did you know there are different kinds of fostering (full, emergency, respite care) and ways you can help?  Would you be willing to spread the word?  If so, how can you make a difference?

About Rita Brennan Freay

The journey of a 1000 miles always ends with a dirty diaper. Headmaster of a self inflicted international preschool & visitor center compassionately changing kids lives, one diaper at a time.
This entry was posted in adoption, fostercare, rita's rants and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to Foster Care – It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way!

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  6. I feel your passion, Rita! And I know that passion is going to build a momentum that will result in great impact. I love being educated by you on a topic that I know so little about. The 1% is compelling all by itself! Keep listening to yourself and sharing with all of us!

  7. Sunday says:

    Thank you for your beautifully inspirational and honest post. As someone who aged out of foster care myself (many years ago), I appreciate your balanced look at foster children. It seems that too often we get a bad rap as somehow fundamentally flawed and damaged. We are not. Again, thank you for this!

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      You are welcome Sunday:) Thanks for your kind words and for sharing your story with me. I am happy to spread the word…while trying to get the truth out there! “Fundamentally flawed and damaged”…this is what I’m talking about…its the bad rap that drives me (crazy). All of it breaks my heart:( I’m glad you stopped by…hope you come back soon:)

  8. Yvonne Hall says:

    I’d love to leave a compassionate deeply profound comment right now. But honestly, I’m speechless, lost in my tears and my empathy of these poor sweet souls. Thank you so much for sharing, for being a voice, for sharing their voice and for believe that we can indeed change it all.
    Much Love for your passion,
    Yvonne Hall
    http://www.facebook.com/wildforwildtree

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Sorry about the tears….my eyes are all welled up again! Yikes. Pass the tissues please. Thx for your encouragement and support….together, we can change it all:)

  9. Hi Rita,
    Your passion shows so strongly! Nicely written. My wife worked in our local Child Advocate program for several years, and her impression of the foster care system was pretty much the same. Let’s hope your blog stirs some action.

  10. What a feeling. To hear the passion and power of your drive, to get those foster kids housed with love. What a sad truth for all of us to face, that with all the money and resources we have, there are so many kids who suffer. I am so glad you are out there willing to educate our population. I, like you. believe that many people dont step up because of misinformation. Go Rita, bring joy into those kids hearts. I hope some day soon to give back “to the future” by enriching our kids.

    Jennifer Duchene
    Home Makeover Mixtress blending lifestyle laughter and Diva dens.
    http://LYShome.com

  11. Rita, I’m so glad you are writing about this topic. I’ve always felt a connection to this issue and have found a few suggestions here of things I can do to make a difference for a foster child. I think it is important to note that if we are going to complain about the general state of the youth of this country, we must be willing to step up and help. The Foster Care system is broken, it wasn’t designed to handle the number of children it must handle as a result of broken homes, drugs, violence and scattered families. Ultimately until we fix this problem we all suffer. You are doing important stuff here…keep it up!

    Darcie Newton
    Discipline for profit, non for jammy zins or memorable necklaces
    http://www.mywealthspa.com

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Foster Care is broken. Its a fact. And you are right, it was never meant to hold this many kids. But we cant’ give up on the innocent kids who are our future and worth every effort we can put forward….with the right tools, motivation, and maybe a miracle, it can be fixed (or at least improved!). I love your comment about if we’re going to complain about it – we need to be willing to stand up and do something about it! One of my favorites is…Be the change you want to see in the world:) Words to live by. Thanks for stopping by Donna….and helping me spread the word.

  12. Wow Rita, thank you for sharing this important message! I used to work for United Way here in Sacramento and one of our projects was called Foster Youth Flourish. The project was the main focus of our Women in Philanthropy (WIP) membership group. The project’s mission is to help foster youth that are emancipating out of the system. We want to help them prepare for life on their own and have assistance during the transition. It breaks my heart thinking about my own family and how I’m 28 and STILL need their help. I can’t imagine being 18 and told “good bye.” WIP members hold towel drives for emancipation baskets, put together stockings during the holidays, organize life skills workshops for foster youth, and most importantly donate their time and money to make sure that Sacramento area foster youth feel loved and supported. Here is more information about the group: http://bit.ly/fevOWy

    Thank you for all that you are doing!!!

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      I know…I was living at home until that age too! Seriously, WHO is prepared at 18 for goodbye??? Nobody! I can’t imagine these kids having to do in ALL on their own. It breaks my heart too!!! The WIP group is doing wonderful things…I wonder if we have soemthing like it here?!?! Thank you so much for the information about the group…I will check it out asap:) Awesome!

  13. Beautiful and heart breaking all at once. Thank you for sharing your passionate and persuasive thoughts about Foster Care.
    Debbie

  14. So so very moving and passionate – I have my tissues piling up…
    My father in law and his wife fostered for a while and found it rewarding but completely heartbreaking when a baby they fostered for a year was returned to the birth mother after she was released from jail. They are still in touch with the little boy but have never fostered since. I have a ton of clothes from my daughters that are in great condition – also some of their toys. I shall try and find out where in Utah I can donate them.
    Thanks for this…
    Louise Edington
    Finding YOUR Freedom
    http://louiseedington.com

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Thank you Louise. Yes, it happens:( Painful. The bitter sweetness of it all. The goal is reunification, however, it is not possible in many, many cases…leading to long term fostering and adoption. Either way, like your in-laws, the connection is made and a life time of love and caring is born….changing lives FOREVER! There’s a foster family/child out there who can use your donations. I had NOTHING when I started…and would have greatly accepted!

  15. Fiona Stolze says:

    Your passion comes across amazingly in this post Rita. I learned so much watching the video too. It’s like a whole new world seeing this. I had no idea what it was like so thank you so much for giving us this insight.

    Fiona Stolze
    Inspired Art and Living
    http://fionastolze.com

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      I remember the feeling well. I had no idea. I was clueless. How did that happen?! Made me wonder how I made it through life so blindly. It quickly became an interesting new world for me…and has left me with the feeling of urgency to do my small part in making a difference.

  16. Rita – you know this is also a subject near and dear to me. Your voice and passion is resonating loud and clear in this post as well as the You Tube videos I watched. There is an organization called My Stuff Bags that provides exactly what you refer to – a duffle bag filled with personal things for foster kids to have as their own. Please contact me privately and I will give you my contacts’ information. Keep writing about this issue, it’s important.

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Thank you Laurie! I would love to learn more about My Stuff Bags….fabulous! I will contact you for more information.

  17. Love your passion Rita. While searching for things that my grandmother might do to pass her time last year, I happened upon the organization “Foster Grandparents”. She was excited about the opportunity to sow into the lives of young children, especially since she lives so far away from hers.

    Rachel Lavern
    Personal Transformation, Enlightenment and Development Coach
    “Live without limits because nothing is impossible to you.”

  18. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aj-lpSR6fic Thanks for that awesome posting. It saved MUCH time :-)

  19. LT says:

    Interesting post.
    Please check out my blog… I grew up in foster care for 11 years. It is not all roses and saviors and it is a system in shambles. And because it is in shambles, hundreds of thousands of kids are suffering.
    <1% might seem like nothing to you, but the reality is that many current foster parents, social workers, GALS, etc need to BE BETTER so the kids are treated better.

    People don't have to be foster parents to make a difference. They can become a CASA, which is a Court Appointed Special Advocate, or volunteer to work in a group home or children's home. Donate toys and clothes or volunteer to tutor. Or agree to mentor teens that are ILP or aging-out. So many ways…

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Thank you LT. I would love to check out your blog. The system is in shambles. Has been forever. No roses or saviors….but we need more people to understand and do their part! Your message is exactly the message I am trying to send…you don’t have to be a foster parent to make a difference! CASA is a great example!! You are right, there are SO many ways that….together we can all make a difference! Thank you for stopping by…and giving us insight from someone who has been there…and lived it. People need to hear your voice too. Greatly appreciated!

  20. Donna McCord says:

    You have obviously been chosen, Rita, for a very important mission to help the precious children that through no fault or choice of their own are without a secure and loving home. I can only imagine how that must be, and watching the video felt so much pain for them but also such gratitude for my own family. Thank you for raising the awareness. Are you aware of an organization called StandUp for Kids? They work with the schools to identify kids that have run away from or been kicked out of homes and help them survive. We did a food drive for their local division here in the Silicon Valley at Christmas last year and I am wanting to do more for them. It is so wonderful to know there are many, many people out there with big hearts — as you say, Guardian Angels, to make a difference. You are one yourself!

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Donna sounds like you are an angel too:) Thanks for your kind words and for doing all you have done with Stand Up For Kids….its awesome! I will look into Stand Up and see if they are active here as well. Together we will make a difference!!!

  21. Pat Zahn says:

    As has been said, I can just “feel” the passion in your blog voice (and I had already watched your video.) I wonder if more of the wonderful kids could be heard from – their compelling stories need to get out and more available adults might come forward.

    Pat Zahn, Photo Solutions Superhero
    http://www.PatZahn.com

  22. Julie Labes says:

    Rita. Your post is so lovely. You are doing a wonderful service letting folks know how easily this could be fixed..keep tweeting and I will keep retweeting them to get that message out.

    Julie Labes,…The Fierce over 50 feels much younger point and click junkie loves to travel does not use a jogging stroller and before you ask this is NOT my granddaughter..Woman

  23. Hi Rita,
    Thank you so much for sharing this…it is amazing, beautiful and TOTALLY COMPELLING! I can’t believe it would only take 1% of American households to empty the foster care system…this is a valuable and much needed message we need to get out. Thank you for being the voice! You’ve given me much to think about…
    Brandy Mychals
    Speaker, Author, Communications Coach
    Creator of Split Second Perceptions

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Crazy huh?! Getting the message out is key….doing whatever we can is what matters….thank you for helping me spread the word….for every child! You are making a difference too:) We are compelling….together!

  24. Rita, you speak so eloquently on this issue. I have thought for years about being a foster parent but alas, my husband has not been so agreeable. I’m a sucker for kids and after watching that video, there wasn’t one I didn’t want to take home and take care of. My passion is gay rights and gay marriage and one way to help alleviate some of the burden is to stop some of the discrimination against gay and lesbian families being able to adopt and foster in some states. We still have a long way to go.

    Susan Berland
    A Picture’s Worth
    http://www.susan-berland.com

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      YES, I hear you! I wanted to take them all home too. Kids just want to be loved…by caring capable people!!! It doesn’t matter if they have one mommy/daddy or two….seriously! I know every state has its own rules but if it could truly be about the KIDS…this world would be a much better place! I wish you all the best in your fight to get equal rights….hopefully giving way to making it possible for more foster families/adoptions…a win/win…especially 4kids!

  25. Rita – such a beautiful, passionate, compelling post. I have a cousin that fostered a little boy…it really was a blessing for both her and him. The world needs more people like you. I love the way you present different ways to help. You truly are one in a million – Rachel

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Thanks for your kind words Rachel! You are SO right, it is a blessing for both…not something you are thinking about beforehand but it doesn’t take long to realize when you are in the middle of it. It has changed our lives forever. I just wish more families knew how easy and rewarding it can be….for them and the kids!!!

  26. I can so hear the passion in your voice and it totally hits the heart. Thank you for sharing this as I had no idea. I will definitely consider this when we start our family and knowing that there are other ways to help out its really great. I’ll definitely spread the word. Again thank you for this education piece.

    Alara K. Castell
    Your Sassy Spiritual Guide

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Thank you for spreading the word Alara…that alone is huge! Its great you will be considering it when planning your family…..there are so many ways you can make a difference:) I wish you all the best in the future!

  27. Becky Parre says:

    Beautiful post, your passion shines in your words Rita.

  28. Irene Turner says:

    I love your passion and your commitment Rita. We have a home (one of 4) across the drive from us that houses boys 8 to 12 who don’t fit into the foster care system for some reason or another. They are so cute and we always make sure to interact with them when we are all outside at the same time. They love to be seen. The world needs more care like yours…definitely hang in there.

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Awww, that is wonderful Irene. So you’ve seen first hand its all about the kids, them wanting to be noticed, and loved. I believe your interactions with them are having a positve affect on their lives….thank you!

  29. You are a wonderful advocate for these desperately in-need children. There are many children with special needs who are particularly hard to place, especially as they get older. I think many of us get overwhelmed thinking about the lack of homes. Your “1%” really helped make the task seem more manageable.

    I just cannot imagine moving so many times or hauling my precious things around in a garbage sack. Thanks for bringing awareness to us. I will remember this for charity donations.

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer
    http://www.thereflectivewriter.com
    Balance, Boundaries, and New Life Directions Through Writing

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      You are right Judy….it is overwhelming at times. Its seems insurmountable and as if alone we can’t make a dent or a difference….but I’ve learned first hand that we can:) The garbage bags have always stuck with me too…overall its been a driving force…I know a suitcase doesn’t take precedence over clothes and shelter BUT if its all we can do at the time…it makes a difference! Thank you for stopping by and for thinking about the kids when it comes to donations. Very much appreciated!

  30. Beautiful post! Thank you for being “compelled” to advocate foster care and adoption. Children deserve to feel loved and safe. I’ve considered becoming a foster parent but circumstances have prevented it. I’ve been a “weekend” parent to children in a local children’s home and it was rewarding.

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      That is fantastic Merlyn! As I said, every bit helps:) And, maybe one day you will be in a position to be a foster parent…..they will always need you!

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