As we roll into this holiday season please take a moment and think about the children who are orphans and/or foster children. These children are in a state of flux. Those of us who haven’t experienced being a child in the house of a foster parent can only speculate on the mental gymnastics required to project calm by the child during the holidays.
Foster care in the US is a constant. California has the largest number of children in foster care, where as Wyoming has the largest ratio of children per 1000 entering foster care. My own state, Washington, in 2009 had almost 10,000 children in foster care.
Organizations worthy of your consideration to support as they are either directly involved in the provision of Foster Care; support the children in Foster Care; or are providing gifts to children this holiday season which they can call their own are:
http://www.onesimplewish.org/ – One Simple Wish
http://www.toysfortots.org/ – Toys for Tots
http://loveourchildrenusa.org/ – Love Our Children USA
http://www.bethany.org/main/foster-care – Bethany
http://www.fosterkidscharity.org/ – Foster Kids Charity
http://www.savethechildren.org/ – Save the Children
http://www.salvationarmyusa.org – Salvation Army
If you need more convincing, please allow me to share with you a story from “a single mother, who speaks from the heart and understands the important things in life.” And why we should look beyond our front door and help these boys and girls.
My best Christmas
I think I was 7 or 8 and in a foster home that year/that season. I remember waking up and using the bathroom, and going back to the room I shared with the two other girls. One older, one younger, they dashed out to the living room, giggling and excited for Christmas morning. I stayed put. By that time I’d learned. Christmas was for good kids. Holidays were when it was best to stay hidden away. I didn’t mind, it was just the way life was.
My foster mom tried to get me to come out, but I wouldn’t I knew how adults were. Tricky. Women especially. I stayed firmly planted under the bed. Foster dad rolled in, and successfully cajoled me out. I really didn’t want to go watch everyone have Christmas, and I really didn’t want to get in trouble. I was still learning the layout of the house and figuring out where the escape routes were. Christmas = crowds = difficult escapes. I was young, not stupid, and these people were up to something.
Back against the wall, wary, watching. I’m not even sure what all the presents were, that were being opened. Foster dad handed me packages. Mine? I refused to open them. Grown ups trick you. He opened them for me. A sweater, some books, pajamas. I refused to touch them and when permitted, I ran back to the room.
It took two days, but the foster family got me to understand that these things were mine, and I could keep them. If I wanted, nobody else would be allowed to touch them. They could be mine. I’d already learned that nothing was mine. Not any kind of dignity, not my body, my house, my family, my pets, it can all get taken away from you in a blink of an eye, and these crazy people were offering me items to possess, because of Christmas. I couldn’t believe it.
I kept them. I never wore the sweater or pajamas, but I kept them and stashed them in various hiding spots in various homes. I still have the books, and have never read them. The thing is, though, it was the best Christmas I’ve ever had. They were all so intent on having me participate, on giving me treasures, trying to help me feel a part of the celebration. Like I mattered. They were so kind. I can never let go of kind people. I’m still in touch with this family and I am grateful to them for understanding a strange little girl and working so hard to see Christmas brighten her eyes.
I would ask that you consider donating some items to the Christmas toy drive of your choice. Something for a child to own and love really, really matters.
Please help where and as you can during this holiday season.