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Why You Should Be A Foster Parent (And Give Back )

This is dedicated to my mother, who is the best foster mother in the whole wide world.

I remember the moment my mother came to me and told me she wanted to be a

foster mother. She went through the training our state required and encouraged my

father to be a part of her journey. My mother, who was dancing on the precipice of

her 60s had no business being a mother again.  She raised 3 children, who at first

glance, seemed to be thriving members of society. At second glance, her 3 children,

were thriving and having children of their own.  Yet we still needed her. 

Mom explained to me, that we had our wings.  She had done the hardest part of

motherhood by shepherding us into adulthood. I do not want to diminish the fact

that we had the luck of having two parents who could provide for us both financially

and emotionally. We were given an advantage that not all children experience. 

This heart-to-heart conversation with my mother quelled the ambient jealousy of

her becoming a foster parent.  At that point, I leaned into her mission and

inadvertently became a support system for a vigilant woman who wanted to make a

difference in this world. 

My parents were not looking to become adoptive parents. In fact, it was quite the

opposite. They were looking to give respite to disadvantaged parents who did not

have the tools to adequately support their child’s welfare and growth. This was a

mission I could joyfully support. My brothers and their wives inched their way into

the ecosystem my mother led with unabashed optimism. 

Mom and dad were trained, certified, and had a pile of paperwork proving their

proficiency as foster parents. As they waited to hear of possible placements with

child protective services, the phone was silent. Mom researched and began to

understand the inadequacies of child protective services.

According to an article by Mother Jones, they confirm the fact that state-mandated foster care errs on

separating families rather than rehabilitating the family unit. Mother Jones reports that they respond inadequately and inhumanely to our society’s abysmal failures. Far from promoting the well-being of children, the state weaponizes children to threaten families, to scapegoat parents for societal harm to

their children, and to buttress the racist status quo. “Policing” is the word that

captures best what the system does to America’s most disfranchised families. It

subjects them to surveillance, coercion, and punishment. It is a family-policing

system. And the only way to stop the destruction caused by family policing is to stop

policing families—to abolish the system that tears families apart.

The black-and-white facts persuaded this ardent critic. I was aware that this is a

critical juncture where mom became a Safe Families volunteer. With one fell swoop,

my parents opened their doors to marginalized families who needed time to figure

their situation out. 

The first little boy who came into their (our) lives was Marry. Marry was a sweet little

boy, who had two broken legs and a mother who was trying to figure it out. Mom

toted Marry around in a red wagon so he could see the sights around him. Marry was

a happy little boy, who screamed with delight when he rolled around on the floor

playing with his trucks. His heart was contagious. 

This is the Safe-Families effect. The ripple effect of unbridled joy that seeps into all

those who care for these children is miraculously changed. And, as a collective, we

experienced bittersweet joy when my parents returned the baby to their home.

Tinged with selfish sorrow, we quickly recognized that each family reunion was our

victory, too.

Fast forward twelve years later, thousands of diapers changed, countless miles of

stroller walks, and 50 babies graced our presence, we don’t question the

“system” of providing a safe family for mothers and fathers who are struggling. 

There is a season for all, and the season of selfless caretaking never ceases.

Learn More About Safe Families Here: SAFE FAMILIES

Don't forget to continue your journey in personal development with The Obsessed Podcast hosted by Julie Lokun, Mika Altidor and Tia Morell Walden. We strive to make you think differently about your life and give you the power to make choices in alignment with your core values! Let us know what you think!

Listen Here: OBSESSED

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