I remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting on the floor with five little toddlers on my outstretched legs. Their beautiful faces were full of anticipation – eyes wide open, big grins on their faces, waiting for me to begin. I started:
Trot, trot to Boston.
Trot, trot to Lynn.
Trot, trot to Salem.
Oh, Don’t fall in……
I opened my legs and they tumbled into a big heap on the floor, a giggling mass of arms and legs. Then they popped up sweetly shouting, “More! More!”
I think we must have done Trot Trot to Boston at least two dozen times before stopping for a snack. We were having such a good time. The kids were all between the ages of 18 months and 3 years. They were living together in the same foster home just outside of Boston. I was a new foster parent and we were visiting before heading over to the Children’s Museum for the afternoon.
As we sat down at the snack table in the kitchen, I was making friends with the reality that these delicious little children who I was playing with were invisible to most people. I was just beginning to realize that the majority of Americans believe that the lives of children who experience foster care are unworthy of our investment. I was thinking about the outcomes of community disengagement and began to imagine a different future for children who are removed from their homes and placed in our public foster care system.
I glanced around the table. So much beauty, so much potential, so much unadulterated joy….. The future. That was the moment I knew I had to sell my businesses and become a full time child advocate. That was the moment I knew that I had to take my love of children and my life-long passion of collaborating with innovative thinkers to re-design the way we care for our most vulnerable children in America. That was the day when I dedicated myself to blessing the lives of children who experience foster care.
I have no idea where those five little toddlers who played Trot Trot to Boston with me are today. I know how much they inspired me that day and every other time we visited their foster home. I know the role that they have played in the development of the Treehouse Foundation, the Treehouse Community, Sibling Connections, Camp To Belong MA, Sibling Sundays, Birdsong Farm, this blog, the Re-Envisioning Foster Care in America Initiative, and all of the other innovative programs that are in development. I am deeply grateful to each one of them for the lessons they taught me. I wish them the very best life has to offer and hope that their families are blessing their lives each and every day.