Sunday, April 8, 2012

Foster Parenting

Why Would Anyone Want To Foster?
Let me tell you why.  Once upon a time we took in 2 brothers after the death of their mother.  They were neighbors that played with my son and had been temporarily placed in our local children's home.  Knowing the home was closing, we jumped through all the necessary hoops to get licensed as foster parents so they wouldn't have to go with strangers.  And what followed was 13 years of memory making.

Who would have thought that we'd go from helping 2 brothers that needed a home to becoming a group home with up to 10 kids at a time?  But we found out that the agency had a problem placing teenagers.  So much baggage and hard feelings came with them.  But our kids were young teens and we wanted to help so we agreed to take in the older kids.  Well, that started something we couldn't have stopped if we wanted to. 

A total of 69 children, different ages and races, but mostly all teenagers, spent anywhere from one night to a month to years as a part of our family.  What we had was a lot of laughter, a few tears, occasional fights, but on a whole, more fun than we could ever have hoped for.  With that many kids, there were only a handful that we couldn't keep.  Their stories and the reasons why we had to send them on will be in a different post, but it wasn't a decision we made lightly.

We had a few rules that no one seemed to mind.  Pick up after yourself, help with the daily and Saturday chores, no fighting and most of all, no one got special treatment.  Natural or foster, all the kids were a part of our family for as long as they were with us. 

Unlike the bad press that foster homes get, we weren't in it for the money.  We honestly were in it to help these kids out of a temporarily bad situation.  We had basketball, softball, camping trips and occasionally we would find the money to take everyone out to eat.  Any discipline would fit the child - from losing phone privileges to an earlier bedtime or maybe plain old simple grounding.   And if the kids wanted something changed, they'd call a family meeting and we'd discuss whatever was bothering them.

The kids formed a bond and all had each others backs.  And I was like a mother hen when it came to protecting each and every one of them.  And through the years the faces changed but the 2 original brothers we started out with remained with us until they each left for college.  And those 2 brothers, both in their 40's now, are still a part of our family. 
My own children learned so much...compassion, tolerance, acceptance...and are very caring adults now.  We had hoped to make a difference in the lives of the children we brought into our family, but I have to admit, we got so much more back then we could ever have imagined. 

In the United States alone, there are over 500,000 children in foster care.  If you've ever thought of fostering, you don't have to take in 69 kids like we did.  But you could make the difference in the life of one child.

The Last Child by John Hart:
I will never profess to know how to write a book review.  But I love to read and share what I've read with others.  The Last Child, another book by John Hart (my new favorite author) has left me speechless.  Never have I read a book that took me so many places and made me feel so many different sensations.  It is so well-written and the locations described in such a way that I feel I am there, though it never takes away from the story.  But it's the characters that make me feel so much. 

The story is told mainly through the eyes of a 14 year old boy who is trying to find his sister.  She disappeared a year ago and Johnny is desperately trying to put his family back together with just a map, his bike, and a plan. 

The other main character, police detective Clyde Hunt, has also been searching for Johnny's sister, but even he can't imagine how far Johnny will go to learn the truth - or what he will find when he gets there.

The suspense is non-stop, the twists and turns will leave you breathless, and you will come away from this book wanting it to go on and on.  I can't wait till the next novel by John Hart comes out.  For me personally, he has risen above James Patterson...okay maybe he's just right up there with him...but Hart is good.

Quotes of the Day:
He who teaches children learns more than they do. - German Proverb

A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove . . . But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child. - Forest E. Witcraft

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