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If you follow us on social media (which you probably do, if you are reading this), you know that May is a precious month to us. May is National Foster Care Month. It is a month during which the community is reminded of this largely silent population that lives hiding in plain sight.
May is the fifth month of our calendar. It hides right in the calendar, much like foster families live right in our communities but are often unseen. May is spring, rebirth. The caterpillar begins its journey to transform into a butterfly, the trees bud and leaves unfurl gradually, the chill of winter still lingers, but moments of warmth press on and light our way. Days, once short, dark, and gray, lengthen and lighten. May is a month of transition and transformation.
Foster care is built upon the principles of transition and transformation. Foster parents are temporary in a child’s life. It might be one night, it might be years of care, but (unless the child becomes available for adoption and the foster parent chooses and is approved to adopt and become a forever family) the impact of a foster parent lasts a lifetime. The balance of sunshine and rain, warmth and chill that springtime provides prepares trees for the year ahead. It can nourish and prepare a tree to better weather a drought in months to come. It allows new leaves, who will nourish the tree, to grow strong and bold with color. Strong foster parents let children unfurl at their own rate, to grow roots, to take sips of safety, stability, and love that will carry along in their hearts and minds for years to come. Foster parents prepare a child for what is to come. The transition can lead to transformation.
Birth families involved in the foster care system are transforming. Parents are striving to meet goals and to plunge their roots into the ground, to find nourishment around them that will heal wounds. Transformation happens. May is proof of transformation.
Why does Foster Care need a month?
Ultimately, foster care doesn’t need a month. No foster parent has every said “I do this work so I can be recognized in May.” They don’t choose to welcome a hurting child into their home so that a local politician can speak at a dinner, or so they can receive a mug with an inspiring quote. They do it because their heart won’t let them NOT do it.
The month is there to shed a beam of light on this population. It is there to break through barriers, to remind people that “foster kids” are KIDS in foster care. They are human, with hopes, dreams, plans, fears, loves, joy, purpose, and dignity. They are members of our schools, houses of worship, sports teams, and workplaces. National Foster Care Month is the opportunity to highlight the most human stories around and to remember that we are one community with love and hope for all its members.
This month, please keep your eyes wide and look for the signs of foster care. Some are literal sights- where do you see posters, brochures, table tents about foster care? Where can you find information about foster care, so that you have a stronger understanding of its intricacies? How can you help? Most people will not choose to or be able to bring a child into their home to serve as a foster parent. That in no way means that every person can’t be a support, an ally. Re-post informational articles about foster care. Run a donation drive to support children in foster care. Cook a meal for a foster family you know. Agree to have a background check and to be an approved babysitter for a foster child you know. Volunteer with your state’s child welfare agency. The opportunity to help is there. It is also here:
To our Caring Community, know that your drive, awareness, and commitment throughout the year is vital and so appreciated. To our foster parents, the energized, the weary, the grieving, the determined, the gentle presence, we see you. We see your moments of glory, we see your sacrifice, we see your labor of love. To our kiddos, we see you. We see your fear, confusion, your courage, your willingness to try again, to be vulnerable, to love a family you did not ask for, to love the family your did ask for in spite of distance and separation. We see your glow. To the birth parents with whom we work, we see your pain, your grief, your fear, your triumph. We see your determination and your heart. In the month of May (and every month), let’s all see one another a little more clearly.