May is National Foster Care Awareness Month and it’s hard to believe that just seven years ago I knew so little about foster care. And to be very real and honest, most of my thoughts on the topic had a great deal of judgement attached. It is easy to fall into judgement when we don’t understand something.
Our family’s introduction to foster care came after a family trip to Haiti where we created connections with children who had been left alone by parents for reasons we could not relate. We saw a country very different from our own, full of people with basic needs going unmet, many with no means whatsoever to meet those needs. Once you see something, you cannot unsee it. Our family’s eyes were opened and our hearts were moved and we could not go back home and forget. We all agreed there was something for us to do in response to what we’d seen, we were just a bit unsure as to what that would be…
Of course, when our eyes open, when we become aware of needs, opportunities to meet those needs that we may have previously been unaware of, will miraculously appear and that was the case for us. A couple of weeks after returning home from Haiti, while teaching PE in my boy’s school gymnasium a school staff member walked through the gym with several children of different color in toe. I felt compelled to understand who these children were and what they were doing with my co-worker.
She was so happy to tell me about their family’s role as foster parents and proceeded to take the opportunity to invite me to an upcoming foster parent training that just “happened” to be taking place within a few weeks. I was excited about the idea and when I shared it with the rest of our family, the vote was unanimous… we would sign up for the class.
I am so thankful we said yes. Our hearts were open, our expectations a bit naive, but we have embraced the steep learning curve and our awareness and understanding of foster care and adoption continues to evolve.
“Awareness equals Advocacy”, says Director of The Foster Care Institute, Dr. John Degarmo. Dr John is a TEDx speaker, author, educator and fighter for the vulnerable. He and his wife have parented over 60 children in the foster system and considers it his mission to raise awareness about this much needed, yet often misunderstood thing called Foster Care.
On this week’s episode of the Mamas Well Podcast, Dr John and I talk about…
• Compassion Fatigue/Secondary Traumatic Stress
• Post Adoption Depression Syndrome
• Psychotropic drugs
• The effects on COVID on our mental health and much more…