Six years ago I got an email from a stranger – a 14-year-old girl claiming she read an article I published in a book on the foster care system. I was shocked— I was working as a military news editor and freelancing on the side, I assumed no one read my advocacy work at all.
Once I realized this girl was a real person, I came to understand that she was very lost, in the system, and at a crossroads in her young teen life. She had run away from a foster home and was living with friends. Years before, her and her twin sister were taken from their abusive mother, and split apart forever.
This young girl, despite problems with friendships/ relationships had stayed away from the “bigger” trouble but she left school. She read a series I wrote on being a former foster child and becoming a mother myself. We became close and I found a program for her to complete her diploma.
She asked one day, “How did you become a success?” Success.. That seemed like a strange adjective to describe my life at that time.. I was divorcing mini me’s dad and my life didn’t feel so successful at that moment. It felt more like Chinese torture to be honest.
But she was correct. I was successful, the echoes of my earliest painful memories were very far behind me. I had the career I wanted, but more importantly I had my blue-eyed daughter Phylicia; the epitome of family I needed.
I give her the best life I can; a loving home, all of the physical and emotional security she needs. The day she was born, it truly felt like I was granted a new lease and purpose in life.
Phylicia is gentle, compassionate, curious, intelligent and creative. She sympathizes with children who do not have the love and security she has.. and I’m proud she values me and our bond. She is the center of my world and every day I let her know it.
So.. ” Success.” My postings on child welfare and foster care issues are about creating more successes. It is about advocating more resources to children in the system to propel themselves into successful adulthood.
There are thousands of success stories. Foster children have grown up to become successful parents, authors, artists, professional athletes, advocates, social workers, teachers, business owners..the list goes on an on. They have broken cycles of abuse/neglect and grown to be kind, loving members of society.
I want to see generations of more personal success out of the child welfare system. It’s about letting even one foster child know that they too can have a family even without any foundation and build something stronger.
It is about educating people about a group of children they maybe never noticed. It is about educating parents, caregivers and teachers on how abusers “groom” children. It is about protecting the innocent from cruel circumstance.
It is about getting even one child out of the system for life.
Look out next week for child charities you should know about and profile pieces on child welfare success stories.
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