Vol. 8, No. 1 November 2003
Lessons Only Children Can Teach Us
Note: This was written in response to Letters
from Foster Care
Out of the
mouths of babes.
As a former
foster parent of ten years, these letters represent the reality that
I saw in the lives of the children I fostered.
the abuse or the maltreatment, the children always seemed to have a
place for their parents in their hearts. It took me several years before
I was able to learn this valuable lesson from them. Children love their
parents because they are their parents.
are more than what they have done. They are the people who gave life
to the children we love. They created the color of their eyes, the texture
of their hair, and parts of their souls we can never touch.
a difficult reality for me to accept. Nothing in MAPP could have prepared
me for this life lesson.
What I didnt
realize for many years is that the more I accepted and honored the birth
families of my foster children, the more the children connected with
and loved me. It seemed such a paradox. Yet I came to realize that by
honoring and loving their families, I was honoring and loving them,
I underestimated a childs ability to love more than one mother
or more than one father. Once I realized how big a childs heart
could be, I started growing mine. I developed wonderful relationships
with birth mothers, birth fathers, grandmothers, aunts, and cousins.
I learned to genuinely care about them because of who they were to the
children that I loved so dearly.
One of the
definitions of foster is to promote the development
of, or cultivate. In many ways the children that my family and
I cared for fostered us. We learned to feel frustration and love, sadness
and love, and fear and love. Just like the children, we have the capacity
to feel different things at the same time.
These letters reminded me of those valuable lessons. No matter the hurt
or the betrayal, the human heart has the capacity to love. The longing
and void that is created in our children by the loss of their birth
families is something we can never fill.
All we can
do is love our children.
to express that love is to make room in our hearts for the people who
gave such amazing gifts to our world. Look between the words of anger
and loss and see the love thats always there. Thats where
the hope liesfor all of us.
Gallimore is community outreach coordinator for NC Kids.
2003 Jordan Institute for Families