President Obama has proclaimed May to be National Foster Care Month. For many former foster youth, the month tends to offer ample opportunities to share personal stories about being in foster care. Typically after reflecting on my short stint in foster care and gushing about the love I have for my foster parents, I'm met with comments about how incredible my foster parents must be. Oftentimes well-intentioned people rationalize away their responsibility by stating; "I could never foster a child. It'd just be too painful saying goodbye." My gut response is to dissociate in to a foreshadowing fantasy of wishing I had the privilege to turn back time and calmly tell the CPS worker: "I would rather not go in to foster care today, as I don't really want to suffer from an attachment disorder because of the separation from my foster family to my adoptive family." Oh, what a privilege it is to be able to choose to avoid pain.
My less visceral, and more thoughtful response is to question the power of a Presidential Proclamation such as this:
What good does a proclamation do when pit up against the plethora of all-too-common responses deflecting responsibility for the 400,000+ children who need our love, stability and care?
I know and believe many adoptive parents (mine included) who emphatically state that they love their [adopted] child as much as their biological children, stating "I feel absolutely no difference. They are all my kids." However, it's tough to fully believe this statement when so routinely hearing "I think I'll l foster after I have my own kids." How will foster care ever raise to the status of critical need when there appears to be an inherent higher value placed on biological children?
Having fostered an older child, I can understand there being plenty of reasons why it does not make sense for anyone & everyone to foster a child. However, I cannot stand for the continued radio silence or fear laden aversion to converse about the needs of our beautiful children, who seek the safety and shelter that you may have the resources to provide. It is for this reason that I'm partnering with Secret Harbor to host a conversation after a Closure screening, with a specific focus on the role of cultural competency in foster care. The screening is free and open to the public. Join us.