It was totally unexpected. In a sudden moment, everything in life changed. Places of comfort were immediately closed off. Being with loved ones who provide support and affection was no longer possible, and won’t be for an indefinite period of time. And any connection between this new, isolated world and the old one will now be facilitated by an imperfect system of experts doing their best to navigate uncharted waters, changing rules and the constant anxiety that comes from the unknown.
No, this is not a blog post about COVID-19. It’s about foster care and what happens to hundreds of children and their families every single day. A life-threatening event occurs, resulting in the experience described above — an experience now all too familiar to many more of us as we, too, have our entire lives uprooted for our own safety.
I was talking with a friend when this health crisis began, lamenting the many challenges we are now facing. When I was finished complaining (which went on far longer than I’m proud of, by the way), he smiled and said, “You have been prepared for this.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You have been a foster parent for the last five years. You just finalized the adoption of your daughter after almost three years of indescribable stress and heartbreak over the unknown. You know what it is like to live in this new, broken and unpredictable world. As much as you might not like it, you’ve been here before.”
He was right. And when this is all over, you will have been there too. My question is, what will you do with this new experience we share? Our foster care system will undoubtedly be overwhelmed in the coming months by incoming cases of abuse and neglect, just one of the many tragic consequences of this global crisis. This will require more families than ever before to step up and willingly enter into the unexpected on behalf of others. Just like we need our nurses, grocery workers and other essential personnel in this present moment, foster parents will be essential in the season to come.
Will you get hurt? Maybe. That is why we are thankful for those today who go to work knowing they put themselves in harm’s way so that others might stay safe. Are you willing to do that for a child? A parent? A family? Then don’t let the lessons you are learning today go to waste, let them be used to help others tomorrow. Be a hero. Become a foster or adoptive parent.
Children’s Wisconsin Community Services recruits, trains and provides support services for foster families. The need for foster parents in Wisconsin is great. Contact us to receive information about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, or visit our website to learn more.