Next month, my husband and I will celebrate 23 years of marriage.
In August, we celebrated 3 years with our newest children.
We celebrate our 2nd anniversary of their adoption March 1st.
Some dates are worth celebrating!
And some are not. Not at all.
This week is the 2 year anniversary of #7’s abandonment by his family, his entrance into the foster care system. His hardest years will be spent trying to maneuver and stay alive and struggle through the foster care system. Every mistake to be permanently marked and mulled over in his file and openly discussed in court and as often as they can, through his “old family”. Every gain and triumph to be washed away, ignored, or overlooked.
Or completely made a mockery of and downright lied about.
He just wants a normal life with a normal family. He just wants to know that he is wanted and needed and loved. He wants to know that someone, anyone, cares where he is and what he is doing, what he’s learning when he reads his Bible, what subjects in school are giving him trouble right now, and which ones he’s finally getting and understanding. He wants to play sports and look up in the crowd and see a familiar face that is encouraging him and cheering him on. The simplest things that most of us, especially our children, take for granted. My Mom, even now, still calls me to make sure I’m OK, and am I wearing a sweater….”Sweetie, it’s COLD outside!”
This is all he wants.
But, for so many teens in our foster care system, this is just as hard to find as the unicorn….or Big Foot. Talked about, but never found: a family. It’s tragic….and heartbreaking.
#7 may not be able to physically LIVE in my home right now, but he still needs love and support, and doggonit, the Suggs family is going to give it to him. He needs encouragement, and someone to discuss things with when he’s upset or curious or excited.
He needs someone to applaud him for making it up to a new level at the Boys Home for amazing behavior. He needs someone to pat him on the back when he’s chosen for “Cleanest Room” or “Best Attitude”. He needs someone to tell him how great he is for bringing up that low grade! (Remember, he wasn’t even loved enough by his “family” to be educated.) He doesn’t need people to make this incredibly tragic time in his life any harder than it already is. If the road is ugly, don’t make it uglier with lies.
I get it: teenagers are hard. They are opinionated, mouthy and think they know everything. But they still need to be loved and cared about. They still need wisdom and guidance.
They still need parents.
Please consider being a mentor for a teen in the foster care system. Volunteer at your local shelter or group home. Their survival through their teen years depends on it. Their success in their adult years hinges on it.
35% of former foster kids experience homelessness
20% will be arrested or incarcerated
54% will drop out of high school
99% will never graduate from college
We can do better than this. We should do better. Everyone can help.