Friday, October 26, 2007

Needing a Brighter Future

I heard a story this morning as I was driving to work that reminded me once again why I was led to adoption. The story was about 12 year old Jordan. When Jordan was 10 years old, and had been in the foster care system for many years, he was featured on a public service announcement about foster children. Jordan said, “I'm 10 and I really hope I'm adopted by the time I'm 11." Patrick and Patty Smith saw that announcement, and decided to adopt Jordan, who by that time had already been in a dozen different foster homes. The Smiths, along with Jordan, built their dream house, and Jordan finally had a permanent home – until the fires came.

The Smiths, all three of them, lost them dream home to the California wildfires. Jordan, because his new family knew he had never really had anything to call his own, let him grab a few things as they were fleeing the fire. But lost in the fire were Jordan’s birth certificates – both his original one and the one from after his adoption, listing his new parents and his new name – and his “Book of Jordan”, information and documents from the time he spent in foster care. But what wasn’t lost in that fire, and what can’t be destroyed, is the love this new family shares. According to Patty Smith, "Jordan just keeps telling us, 'It'll be OK, Mom. It'll be OK.' He's been through this before." "Jordan has been the best thing that's ever happened to us," Patrick said. "... He's been the world to us, and helped us out through a lot of stuff. He's holding us together through this."

Jordan is one of the lucky ones – a child languishing in foster care who finally found his family – a child who can look to the future with confidence that he is in a very special way connected to others. That connectedness is what the rest of the children still in foster care long for desperately.

As a child growing up, I remember the family tree project from elementary school that fascinated me so much as I added in aunts, uncles and many grands and great grands. I remember the anticipation of holidays and knowing I would soon be in the company of my many cousins, cousins just waiting to make new memories with me. I looked forward to high school graduation, knowing my family would be there, would be proudly standing and clapping for me, and would probably have a party waiting afterwards. When in college, I knew that I always had a home to come back to, a place to spend winter and spring breaks, a place to plan my after-college future. And as an adult, I have absolutely loved sharing my children with their grandparents and other relatives. Children in foster care don’t have these things, and it is, in my opinion, heartbreaking.

I urge each and every one of you to examine your lives and try to find a place in your family for a child in foster care. Teenagers, especially, need homes. They know the clocks defining their futures are ticking, and those futures hold little promise. Help become the glue that provides the connectedness these kids are so desperately seeking. Give them brighter futures and help them rewrite their pasts with a new family’s history.

I can guarantee two things if you consider this challenge. First, it won’t be easy. In fact, it may be very, very difficult for everyone involved. Second, it will be worth it, and your lives and the life of a child will change for the better. Make a difference…please.

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