Every Child Rooted in Family & Community

Just back from the 2010 Congressional Angel in Adoption Awards.

Thank you Senator John Kerry for honoring the Treehouse Foundation, Sibling Connections, Birdsong Farm and the past decade spent helping to inspire a re-envisioning of foster care. I hope this award will help each of these organizations raise the funds needed to garner additional investments in innovation so that all children in America can be rooted in family & community in the best ways possible.

I flew to California after receiving the 2010 Congressional Angel in Adoption Award to help fundraise for Daniel Heimpel, founder of Fostering Media Connections. Daniel is touring the country, highlighting what is working for young Americans experiencing foster care. His goal: To change the foster care narrative.

Daniel, an award winning journalist, recently spent time in the state of Washington, California, Maryland and DC. This week-end he will arrive in Massachusetts and spend the next few weeks crisscrossing the Commonwealth talking to visionary and talented Bay State social entrepreneurs, social workers, youngsters experiencing foster care, former youth in care, child advocates, DCF staff, legislators, community leaders, educators and volunteers who are charting the direction we will take to ensure that every child in Massachusetts actually is rooted in family and community.

While here, Daniel will also be the keynote speaker at a
Re-Envisioning Foster Care conference that Treehouse is co-hosting
in western MA. along with Friends of Children and the UMass Amherst Rudd Adoption Research Program. In addition to Daniel, Lauren Frey of Casey Family Services will help create a culture of possibility at the conference.

Recently I came across the Winter 2003 issue of Profile on Permanency, a newsletter put out by Massachusetts Families for Kids. In 2003 Lauren was the Executive Director of the organization. I have saved this newsletter for 7 years. I read it often. It has a very important article in it that I have never seen printed anywhere else. It is titled A Pledge To Our Children in Foster Care.

I remember the first time I heard this pledge read aloud. Lauren stood in front of a gathering of people and asked us all to read it with her. When I close my eyes I can see her standing there – brave, strong, compassionate and true.

A Pledge To Our Children in Foster Care

I pledge to value the intrinsic worth of every child and teenager in foster care and believe in the essential need for each one of them to be cherished.

I pledge to keep every child and teenager in foster care safe and healthy.

I pledge to take responsibility for the right of every child and teenager in foster care to the safe haven of a loving and permanent family.

I pledge to unite every child and teenager in foster care with his or her family or origin as safely and quickly as possible.

I pledge to achieve a safe, stable and loving adoptive or guardian family as quickly as possible for every child and teenager in foster care that cannot return to his or her family of origin.

I pledge to keep children and teenagers in foster care meaningfully, purposefully, and permanently connected to the safe haven of kin and extended family members.

I pledge to keep children and teenagers in foster care meaningfully, purposefully and permanently connected to the safe haven of their community, culture, ethnicity and language.

I pledge to always tell the truth, the whole truth, to children and teenagers in foster care and provide whatever supports might be necessary in helping them hear, understand, and live with the reality of that truth.

I pledge to listen to the voices of children and teenagers in foster care, and hear what they say they need as well as what they cannot or do not say.

I pledge to listen to the hearts of children and teenagers in foster care, and feel what they feel even when it is excruciatingly painful or makes us feel extraordinarily uncomfortable.

I pledge to listen to the life stories of children and teenagers in foster care, and learn the hard lessons so that none of the mistakes of the past will be repeated in the present.

I pledge to provide every child and teenager in foster care with the same rights, benefits and opportunities that I would want for my own child, grandchild, niece or nephew.

I pledge to never give up on any child or teenager in foster care no matter how old they get, how challenging their special needs are or how complex their circumstances become.

I pledge to treasure and treat each and every child and teenager in foster care as if they were my own.

Thank you Lauren for being the amazing role model that you are.
You are such a guiding light. I can’t wait to introduce you to Daniel.

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