You Can Save A Child’s Life. You Can Make a Difference as a Foster Parent!
“Change the life of a child. Change your life in the process.”
Changing the life of a child has changed my life in the process.
For several years, now, I have been accused of being crazy for taking so many children into my home. My work mates, friends, and even family members have told me countless times that I can’t care for every child that comes into the foster care system. They tell me that I need to look after myself, that I need to might wear myself out, and that I won’t be able to do the things that I want to do. There have even been those times when I have had close friends and family members shake their heads and sigh at me when I inform them that my wife and I have taken in yet another child into our home. People often wonder why we do it, why we are foster parents.
Indeed, while traveling across the country working with thousands of foster parents at training conferences and speaking engagements, I continue to meet many such foster parents, working tirelessly to help children in need. Yet, over and over again, I am inspired by their stories of dedication, unconditional love, and servant hood. The foster parents I met in Texas who only cared for babies that were dying from a variety of terminal illnesses, rocking them in a chair until they died, and making sure they were loved until their last breath. The single foster father in South Carolina who only looked after troubled teenage boys. The single foster mother in West Virginia who cared for young teenage girls and their babies saving them from a life of human sex trafficking. These were just a few of the inspirational people I had met through the years, all dedicating their lives to helping children in need, and sharing love with them. People who have chosen to save a child’s life.
Rescue the weak and the needy, and deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Do these words ring true to you? Do these words speak about foster children? They certainly do to me. Children in foster care are weak. Children in foster care are needy. Most importantly, children in foster care need to be rescued. This is what foster parents do; we rescue them by providing a safe and stable home for them. We clothe and feed them. We provide clean beds and a safe environment for them. But, perhaps most importantly, we are to love them.
“What you are doing is truly making a tremendous difference in the lives of children in need.”
Without question, there can be much joy in being a foster parent. Watching a child in foster care smile the first time after years of abuse; teaching a child in foster care how to ride a bike; sharing a foster child’s first real birthday with him after so many had been ignored in the past; giving a child his very first Christmas experience; witnessing a teen in foster care walk across the high school stage and receive her graduation diploma. All of these opportunities are ones that not only fill the child with joy, but my own heart with joy, and love, as well. My own life is so much fuller after having the opportunity to care for these children; the opportunity for them to be part of my family. I am by far a much better parent, better spouse, and a better person for each and every child that has come through my home, and through my family.
I cannot save every child. But to be sure, I can help some, and so can you. Foster parents do make a difference. You can make a difference every time a foster child is placed into your home. You can make a difference every day a child is living with you. You can change the life of a child. You can give hope to a child, and can give that child a better future. You can be a foster parent to a child in need.
Without a doubt, what you are doing matters. What you are doing is truly making a tremendous difference in the lives of children in need. Though you may feel exhausted at times, and though you may feel that you are not making an impact, you are changing the life of a child. You are planting a seed in the life of a child in foster care that WILL grow, and WILL bloom. You may not see this transformation while the child is living in your home; this seed may not blossom until much later, but it will blossom if you plant it with love, water it with your tears, and nurture it with your time and compassion. Years from now, after a child from foster care has left our homes, the child may never remember my face. Indeed, the child may never remember my name. Yet, he will remember something. He will remember for a time in his life, and maybe the only time in his life, he was loved. He was loved unconditionally, and this love will last for him for a life time.
This love will be with you for a life time, as well.
Change the life of a child. Change your life in the process.
Dr. John DeGarmo has been a foster parent for 15 years, and he and his wife have had over 50 children come through their home. He is an international consultant to legal firms and foster care agencies, as well as an empowerment and transformational speaker and trainer for schools, child welfare, businesses, and non profit organizations. He is the author of several books, including Love and Mayhem: One Big Family’s Uplifting Story of Fostering and Adoption and writes for several publications. Dr. John has appeared on CNN HLN, Good Morning, America, ABC Freeform, and elsewhere, He and his wife have received many awards, including the Good Morning America Ultimate Hero Award. He can be contacted at drjohndegarmo@gmail, through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at The Foster Care Institute.