Yesterday I met a beautiful little 3 week old baby girl in the Treehouse Library. She was sleeping peacefully in her little pink bunting, complete with fuzzy ears and feet. Her foster mother had come to Treehouse to attend a monthly foster parent support group for families in the region.
As I gazed down upon her I felt a rush of emotion. I realized that anyone who met this sweet baby would never know that she had been removed from her family and placed in foster care. In that moment she was not labeled, she was not stigmatized or limited by us in any way.
I stood by her car seat and thought, “She is full of potential and, if we care for her in the right ways, she will be able to live her life fully on a level playing field with her peers who are not in the system. If we thoughtfully care for her, if we invest in her well-being and her life, she will be given every opportunity to flourish and succeed. If we pay attention, she will be able to live a healthy and productive life.
A young woman who lives at Treehouse was doing her homework when the baby entered the Library. She was busy at the computer but when she saw the baby and heard us say that she was only 3 weeks old, she got up and walked over to say hello. “Is she your baby?” she innocently asked the woman standing next to her car seat. “No,” the woman responded. “I’m her foster mother.”
She and I stood together touching her little pink toes. “I’ll bet you looked just like her when you were a baby!” I said quietly. I knew she was thinking back about her beginnings. I knew she was reflecting upon her experiences in foster care. She smiled. I hugged her. She went back to the computer to collect her things.
The parent support group was about to start so I made my way out of the Library. Out in the foyer I turned around and looked back at both girls. I silently vowed to continue to do whatever I could to make things better for them both. These lovely girls and their peers are my inspiration. They deserve the new realities we are creating for them!
“Onward and upward!” I say to myself.
“Raise that money!”
“The best way to grow is to change.”
“So, be the change! Collaborate with others and show 800,000 kids in foster
care that they are worthy of our time, our investment, and our resources.”
I am deeply grateful for all the wonderful people who are on this journey to support our nation’s children in foster care with me: funders, program partners, board members, program planners, volunteers, business people, fiscal wizards, counselors, rowing coaches, drama queens, artists, IT specialists, friends, family, wise mentors, networking colleagues, architects, camp owners, social entrepreneurs, teachers, therapists, college professors, quilters, knitters, community weavers, visionaries and Treehouse community members of all ages. Your contributions make Treehouse, Camp To Belong MA, Sibling Sundays, and all the changes I envision possible.
We know what happens when 25,000 young people “age out” of foster care without enduring family or community connections. We know what happens when we scoop up 3 week old babies and give them the best possible care. Imagine if that was America’s new policy! It can happen. All it requires is for us to become invested in better outcomes for all of our nation’s children.