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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Soapbox: Patch Adams: A Child in Need

This week's question from Dr. Patch Adams is an intriguing one for me and all foster parents.  It is:

2. Could you choose at least one child you're not related to and give them the time and care they need?

At this very moment there are approximately half a million children who are without a permanent family and home. They desperately need time and care and love. They also need stability. These are not starving children crammed together in cribs in some foreign orphanage.  These are children in our own country.  They are children of neglect. They are children who have been abused and traumatized.  They are children of desperation and hopelessness. And they are the future!

They are the children who are learning not to trust. They are learning that people who love you, hurt you or abandon you or fail to care for you. They are in your community, no matter where you live.  They are in your schools, and all too often, they are on your streets. I am deeply pained to admit that some of them are in the care of people whose job is to protect them but who may not be protecting them. [I believe that is a small minority unlike what the media would like to imply!] But most of them are just guarding themselves as they shift from place to place, from person to person, as their hope in the future gets more and more dim, more and more deeply buried. 

They are not just small ones either.  Some of these "children" who so desperately need someone to help them, someone to be there, someone to care, have passed the cuddly cute baby and toddler stage.  They are grown to the point that even they realize their chances for a family home are racing out of the hourglass faster than grains of sand. They are boys and girls at an age when biology and development make them struggle and fight for independence they are not prepared to sustain.

Patch Adams doesn't say foster care or adoption specifically. Although I believe that is the most crucial need, if you can't make that leap, don't be stopped. Maybe it is a child in a good, loving family who just needs a mentor, an outside champion?  How many children do you know?  In your church? In your neighborhood?  At the grocery store?  Do you show them you care about them?   How often do you speak to them?  Do they look forward to and receive a smile from you every time you see them? Start by learning their name. Make a conscious point to smile and meet their eyes.  It is a place to start.  

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