I was unaware that April 10th was Siblings Day. I did not know that the Siblings Day Foundation believes that establishing Siblings Day will benefit of families, communities and the nation just like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. This new knowledge got me to thinking…thinking about siblings separated by foster care.
According to the Foster Care Alumni of America website, over 2 million American children live with grandparents or other relatives because their parents cannot care for them. When relatives provide foster care (known as kinship care), siblings can often stay together. Kinship care also improves stability by keeping displaced children closer to their extended families, their neighborhoods, and their schools.
Every child deserves a loving supportive family. I believe that the ultimate goal of the foster care system is to keep children and teens in a safe family structure.
In honor of family and my birthday on April 8th, I am sharing with you my 8 favorite quotes about family.
Survive = to continue to exist or live after
Profanity, nonchalant attitudes, defiant behavior, substance abuse, unprotected sex, sexting, lack of motivation, seclusion, running away, and a dozen other actions by teenagers can be symptoms of serious health and mental health conditions. These behaviors should not be ignored but they may also be coping mechanisms utilized by a young person who has endured trauma, uncertainty, and disappointment. I’m not making excuses for any of the negative behaviors listed above. What I want is for you to put yourself in the shoes of a teenager who may be filled with fear, anger, and loneliness. Take a second to try and recall a time when you looked at someone’s situation and said to yourself “I couldn’t have done that” or “I don’t know how they made it”, or “I really feel for them”. The strength and perseverance in many teens in foster care is to be encouraged and celebrated. We can express joy and gratitude when youth survive life’s challenges but it is time for our young people to thrive.
I didn’t watch any of the Super Bowl this past Sunday! No, I didn’t even tune in for the high priced commercials or to see Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, or Jennifer Hudson. I don’t live under a rock; I’m just not a football fan. I am a fan (advocate) of youth in foster care, however. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that in addition to Michael Oher of the Baltimore Ravens, Patrick Willis of the San Francisco 49ers was also a successful foster care alumnus. After a little more research, I learned that the two men facing off against each other in Super Bowl XLVII were good friends and former teammates at the University of Mississippi. That excited me. No matter who won the football game, Michael and Patrick’s triumphant stories scored a win for youth in foster care.
“Did you know there are two former foster kids and a handful of adopted players playing? There are even a few players that have foster care related foundations. Could this be the Foster Kid Super Bowl?” –Chris Chmielewski, Foster Focus Magazine
#Fact: The more birthdays a child celebrates in the foster care system, the less likely they are of being adopted. Older children need families too.
Foster care statistics according to the AFCARS Report for FY2011 (July 2012):
Raising awareness about the need to help teenagers in foster care ‘secure’ a forever family through adoption or to help them develop a support system of caring adults who will assist them after their foster care services end is essential to improving their quality of life.
I’m unable to adopt or become a parent what else can I do?
So glad you asked that question. There are so many ways to get involved to support teenagers and young adults in foster care.
A few years ago I was delivering a workshop to a large group of young ladies in high school. The topic was “Empowering Ladies In the 21st Century”. I asked the group who some of their female role models were and a very spirited young lady answered Keyshia Cole. At that time, Keyshia Cole‘s reality TV show on BET was very popular. I had watched a few episodes of the show with my daughter and I felt that BET was spending too much time showing the dysfunction of Keyshia’s relationships with her mother and sister. I asked the student what she admired about Keyshia Cole and her response was that she and Keyshia Cole had been through a lot of tough things including foster care but they were both still pressing on. Awesome answer which then allowed us to discuss strength, forgiveness, support systems, and self-advocacy.
When I posed the question “what was on your wall” did you think I was referring to your Facebook wall? Well, I’m not. I need you to think further back into your history.
I have been a New Edition fan since 1983. My bedroom wall was FULL of New Edition posters, pictures, and articles – in all honesty it looked more like wall paper. Did you have posters on your bedroom wall when you were a teenager? Were the walls in your bedroom an expression of your hobbies, celebrity crushes, activities, and dreams? Gazing at the faces of those five talented teenage boys brought me happiness. I swapped old pictures for new ones and moved things around to make perfect lines and squares. New Edition photos covered my walls for many, many years.