Vol. 11, No. 1 • November 2006

Step Into My Shoes

In her poem “Have You Ever” Shebra, a 16-year-old in foster care in North Carolina, asks:

Have you ever lived my life?
Spent one minute in my shoes?
If you haven’t then tell me why
You judge me as you do.

These questions are natural for someone who is experiencing the stigma and labeling that sometimes come with being in foster care.

They’re also relevant for the rest of us. All of us, at one time or another, have felt the pain of being unfairly judged.

Many of us also know from experience the bad things that can happen when decisions are made and actions taken based on false assumptions about another person’s character, skills, or motivations.

In the face of other people’s hasty conclusions we all want the things Shebra longs for: Respect. Compassion. Understanding. Acceptance. Justice.

In the child welfare system, negative assumptions about others can hurt collaboration, undermine healing and partnership, and interfere with efforts to act in the child’s best interests.

The best protection against these negative outcomes is, in the words of Steven Covey, to “seek first to understand”—to listen with an open heart, to delay judgment as long as possible, and to remain open to new information.

Admittedly, this can be hard to do in the stressful world of child welfare, but we believe that it almost always pays off in the end—especially for the kids.

To promote understanding and empathy among those who work in the child welfare system, this issue of Fostering Perspectives gives you an opportunity to “step into the shoes” of a birth mother, the birth children of foster parents, a former foster child turned adoptive mother and child advocate, and many others.

Contents

Have You Ever? a Poem by Shebra
Coming Full Circle in My Lifetime
Looking for Insights that Will Help You Care for Kids Better?
The Voice of a Parent Involved with the Child Welfare System
Reunification in North Carolina in 2003
The GAL Perspective
A Social Worker's Heartfelt Tips for Foster Parents

What's It Like to Be a Birth Child in a Foster Home

Update from the NC Foster and Adoptive Parent Association
Honoring NC's Foster and Adoptive Parents and Their Partners
Kids' Pages
SaySo "Cleans Up" for Make a Difference Day
Visit North Carolina's Heart Gallery
A Reader Asks about Post-Adoption Support
"Ambition," a Poem by Natasha
The Central Directory of Resources: Where Foster and Adoptive Parents Find Answers
Meet NC's New Education and Training Voucher Coordinator
Help Us Find Adoptive Homes for These Children!
"Old Life's New Beginning," a Poem by Tasha
Writing contest

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References for this issue
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Copyright 2006 Jordan Institute for Families