*This post is by guest blogger Annie Evelsizer. This story is inspired by true events and real people.
As a respite care provider in the foster care system, she agreed to care for a bubbly and busy 11-month-old boy over a long weekend so his foster parents could take a family vacation. With three elementary aged biological children of her own, she had forgotten how tiring the baby stage could be with the need to baby proof outlets, cover sharp corners, the late night diaper changes and early morning bottle requests interrupting their usual family routine. But as a respite care provider, she was happy to be helping out in her community where she could. It was temporary, a quick weekend. So, she said yes.
But then COVID-19 rushed in, presenting itself to be a very unprecedented danger in the United States, and overnight new policies were introduced requiring the baby’s foster parents to quarantine themselves for 14 days upon returning from their vacation before they could be reunited with him. Suddenly, instead of being a 48-hour respite care provider, she was responsible for a foster baby for nearly a month. Being the biological mother of slightly older children herself, her household was not equipped for the longer term needs of a baby. She did not have a pantry full of formula, a closet with spare diapers or even clothes for a child beneath the age of seven – besides the two outfits he arrived with. Additionally, with the pandemic in full swing, local stores were instantly emptied of nearly all essentials needed to care for an infant as worried parents stocked their homes for the expected shelter in place order.
As panic threatened to creep in, she decided to post a message of need on her local foster care support group Facebook page. Within moments, responses flooded her inbox with offers of formula, baby food, toys, diapers, wipes and clothes… anything she could ever need to get her through the month ahead. Every single essential need was handled within three hours by her community, all dropped off at a local safe spot for her to pick up that evening.
All because people said yes.
The foster parents said yes to the needs of the children in their county. Then a respite care provider said yes to a request for a short sojourn. The local foster care system support groups said yes to a mother in need. And because of these combined responses of yes, a little boy was held, and fed, and loved, and cared for even when his family could not.
On any given day, there are roughly 437,000 children in the foster care system in the United States. In 2018, more than 685,000 children were served by the U.S. foster care system, with placements averaging over 18 months in the care of their respective states. Some will remain in the system for five or more years. (Children’s Bureau)
Foster care is a system set in place to provide temporary living and care arrangements for children whose biological parents are unable to care for them. As an ever evolving system, today’s foster care system offers invaluable accountability systems and guidelines in place to protect our country’s most vulnerable children.
But the fact remains, the foster care system continues to need your help and support. Maybe you can’t say yes to becoming a full-time foster parent, but what CAN you do? Can you become a respite care provider? Maybe you can work with a local church or support group to organize donations for foster families in your area? Or maybe you have items you can donate to families in need. Everything counts. But saying yes is the first step.
This month, and every month thereafter, let’s remember our nation’s children.
For More Information on Foster Care:
- The Children’s Bureau
- The Christian Alliance for Orphans
- Annie E. Casey Foundation
- Adopt US Kids
- AFRJ Blog – Foster Care
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