Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Nobody's Kids

Several years ago I wrote an article about foster parents because May is “Foster Parents Appreciation Month.” My wife, Isaura, has worked for Agape Villages Foster Family Agency for eleven and a half years and absolutely loves her job. She is responsible for the certification process which authorizes adults who meet the criteria to become foster parents. She also provides the training of these newly certified foster parents. The folks who make up Agape have a great heart for these foster children, children who typically find themselves wrenched from their homes through no fault of their own.

The term I hear most often from my wife is that foster kids are “Nobody’s Kids.” Why are they Nobody’s Kids? The answer to that is simply that these are children who belong to a family that is no longer able to properly care for them, thus finding themselves thrust into a system called “foster care,” which attempts to place them in loving homes where they can experience what has been previously denied them.

Foster children are often broken because the biological parents who were supposed to love and care for them were more often than not strung out on drugs and booze, leaving their children to fend for themselves. Damage occurs because the natural loving touch of parents is missing in those most formative years, leaving the child starved for the basics of family connectedness. Since they often do not make the necessary connection with a significant adult in those first five years, they are likely to grow up incapable of having significant relationships later in life.

The following is a brief description of the phases of one boy’s venture into foster care, ultimately ending up in an Agape Villages foster home.

“My name is Devon. I’m 4 years old. I’m homeless. My mother is a drug addict. We live on the streets of San Francisco. I’m cold. I’m hungry. I’m scared.”

“My name is Devon. I’m 6 years old. My mother is in jail. I’ve never been to school. I’ve never had a cozy warm bed to call my own. I live in a receiving home for homeless children. I’m scared. I’m angry.”

“My name is Devon. I’m 9 years old. I live in a foster home. I’ve lived in 5 foster homes. I keep running away! I don’t need anyone to take care of me! I’m mad at everybody! I’m going to run away again!”

“My name is Devon. I’m 12 years old. I live in Sacramento. I live in an Agape Villages foster home. I like to skateboard. I like to go to school. I play football at school. I’m good at making friends. I have three friends on my block. I have a warm cozy bed. I’m part of a family. They love me. We go to church every Sunday. I don’t want to run away anymore.”

Foster parents take in children from infant to 18 or until they complete high school, kids who have often been neglected, abused, or otherwise not properly cared for. These foster parents become the surrogate family the child never had. Is the adjustment a smooth one? Hardly! Occasionally a child will come into a foster home and make the adjustments without a hitch, but this is a rare occurrence. Because of the past neglect and inability to connect, these children often find it very difficult to become a part of the family. A great deal of patience is required on the part of the foster parents, hopeful that at some point in the child’s experience in their home they will realize that they are loved and valued for who they are.

Imagine, if you will, a foster child enters the home of a family who are total strangers to them. The child might ask himself: Who are these people? Can I trust them? Why are they nice to me? What if I screw up and they don’t want me any longer? Will I have to go back to juvenile hall? Will they love me? Will I be allowed to sit at the dinner table with this family? Will I be treated the same as the natural born kids in this family? Will I ever see my parents again?

Foster parents know that despite their best efforts these young children struggle with being accepted. In fact, they normally expect to be rejected. This cycle repeats itself, not only in foster homes, but often throughout their lives.

The action of these foster parents taking damaged and hurting children into their homes demonstrates godly character. They willingly accept these foster children into their homes to become part of the warp and woof of their family experience, fully realizing that these children are “damaged goods.” They pour their hearts and lives into these children, praying they will know they are loved and valued, just as God in Christ has loved us and accepted us into his eternal family.

God bless our foster parents! Because of them, Nobody’s Kids become Somebody’s Kids!

P.S. If you would like to help Agape, there is a golf tournament May 26 at Spring Creek Golf & Country Club in Ripon. For more information, or to sign up to play, or simply to make a donation, go to: agapevillages.com and click on Events in the left hand column. Thank you!

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