I was reading an article yesterday in a local paper here in Sacramento, called Inside Arden.
On page 74, among other things, was the call to help provide new clothes to children in foster homes. Sleep Train sponsors this and many other foster child-centered drives numerous times a year; this one goes through the end of June.
In her article, Gloria Glyer said, “Did you know that children who enter foster care often come with just the clothes on they’re wearing? That’s because they have been taken out of their homes or schools before they can pack up their belongings.”
Despite how horrible family life is, it is all a child knows. An old friend of mine whose childhood should have been investigated by CPS told me, You don’t think anything of the horrible living conditions or the abuse; you assume everyone’s family is like that because it’s all you’ve ever known. I would guess – and correct me if I’m wrong, please – that despite the misery, there is a certain comfort in the consistency, even if it’s inconsistent consistency.
Imagine being taken from your home with your parents screaming and protesting. Or, instead of going home from school like everyday, a stranger is there to take you somewhere that isn’t your home or your family.
Pretty rough, huh?
Now, imagine you’re moving from one strange house into another, your only belongings stuffed in a garbage bag.
WHAT KIND OF MESSAGE IS THAT SENDING?!
My daughters are fortunate in that they were never removed from their homes.
Let me explain:
Paige, my youngest, was taken home by her foster mother from the NICU at three weeks. She was five months old when we brought her home. Looking back, I realize the gifts and clothes her wonderful foster mother purchased were sitting on the floor in plastic bags when we picked her up. I never thought about it until now, probably because she was so young and we were focused on carrying her!
The first time Payten, my oldest daughter, went into the system, she was dropped off at her biological grandmother’s house, whom she stayed with 60-70% of the time. The second time she went into the system, she was almost three years old. Her biological parents dropped her off directly at our house; we all wanted to make the transition as easy for Payten as possible.
She came with a couple of plastic garbage bags full of things. Her biological father brought them inside and put them on the floor. They contained mostly ill-fitting clothes, though there were some toys, a couple of stuffed animals and books. Sadly, it was probably more than most foster kids take with them when they relocate.
So, why hadn’t this occurred to me before?
Because the girls were so young?
Because they were appropriately dressed, clean and not emaciated?
Most likely it simply didn’t occur to me because I’d never been in that situation, and I take for granted that my life has never been stuffed into a garbage bag and lugged around, the proverbial scarlet letter.
IT BREAKS MY HEART!
If it breaks your heart too, there are ways you can help.
Click on the links below to find out how:
Remember, it’s the raindrops that fill the bucket of love.