I’ve shared before that I worked in the foster care/adoption field for a few years when I lived in TX. I took on a “special” caseload of children who were deemed to be “hard to place”. My caseload was filled with large sibling groups, children with special needs and even a few 17 year olds who were close to aging out of care without families. It was my job to do the “impossible” and find them families. Not just any family though, a super family who had enough empathy (and patience and love and did I mention patience?) to take a child living in the foster care system in, along with lots of baggage, and nurture that child like their own.
It was the most challenging and rewarding job, much like being a mother. I experienced some difficult things and also experienced a lot of good. I got to meet a lot of amazing people, especially some of the foster and adoptive parents I was privileged to work with. The number one thing I heard time and time again when I told people what I did for a living was: “I don’t know how you could do that”. My simple answer: My kids. Because that’s exactly what I considered the children on my caseload, mine. These children didn’t have families and most of the time I was the only semi-permanent figure in that child’s life.
In grad school I was taught not to get attached, to let it go at the end of the day. It was just a job. That’s the thing though, it wasn’t just a job to me. These children just wanted to be loved above all else and I was the only one there with the ability to do it. Maybe that’s why I don’t think I could ever do that job again now that I’m a mom. Having a baby changes you, or it did that to me at least. I’m a fierce mama bear now. If my child is upset or something hurts him, I feel it tenfold. I think I would get myself into some hot water acting like that in front of a judge during a court hearing. Who knows, maybe it would make me an even stronger advocate.
One thing that always weighed on my mind as I was sipping hot cocoa by the fireplace with my family on Christmas Eve, was what “my kids” would be doing in their foster or group homes that night. Most of the foster parents and agencies tried to make the holidays special for these children, but Santa rarely brought them what they really wanted – a family to call their own. A family to spend Christmas with. I know many of you aren’t in the position to foster or adopt, but there are other things you can do. I wrote a blog post a couple months ago about ways you can get involved and make a difference in the foster care/adoption field. Check with your local foster care/adoption agencies, many look for Secret Santas to donate gifts around this time of year. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, the Dave Thomas Foundation is a great resource and offers a free step by step adoption guide.
When I was presented with the opportunity to share the joy and shop for a good cause with World Market, I knew exactly how I would spend my gift card. I contacted an old co-worker back in TX, who actually took over my old position, and she put me in contact with another adoption caseworker who had the perfect child in mind for this opportunity. Felicia is 16 years old and loves baking and cooking with her foster family. She hopes to go to culinary school one day and was super excited about me picking out a few cooking/baking supplies for her from World Market. Understandably, she was reluctant to have her picture plastered all over the internet. As her caseworker shared with me, she’s had a rough start to life and deserves some positive in it right now. Just thinking about this little girl makes me tear up and I was so honored to be able to shop for her (check out all of the amazing baking/cooking supplies I found at World Market!). Thank you World Market for giving a 16 year old girl in the foster care system some joy!
All the World Market goodies packaged up and ready to be sent to Felicia in TX (Logan helped me pack things up):
Here’s the letter that I included in the package:
Don’t forget to enter the World Market Share the Joy Sweepstakes:
- Grand Prize package includes: A $5,000 American Express Gift Card for you and $5,000 for a charity of your choice
- You could be one of 5 winners (one winner per week).
- The Share the Joy Sweepstakes ends 12/21/12.
You can find World Market online here: