Robin Williams starred in what is probably my favorite movie of all time: Patch Adams. I know, I know…go ahead and judge…”favorite movie of ALL TIME?!” But it’s true. It is definitely in my top 3. Probably because of my background in medicine and my love for heartfelt films, but I could watch that movie over and over. I even have a red nose (thanks to “Red Nose Day” and Walgreen’s) that I sometimes wear to make my kids laugh…yes, I am real corny.
ANYWAYS. This quote, a favorite of mine, that is often affiliated with Robin Williams, will get me to the point of this blog post:
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”
♥ That disheveled teenage girl who cursed at cars and “flipped the bird” while walking through the parking lot (carrying a white garbage bag over her shoulder)…she has a story.
♥ The woman in front of you in the grocery checkout struggling to find enough bills, with a baby strapped to her back (at 10 pm at night)…she has a story.
♥ The man on the side of the road holding a sign “Homeless and disabled, anything helps” with his right leg 5 times larger than the left, ridden with obvious lymphedema… a story.
♥ The pregnant homeless woman by the bridge…a story.
All of these are real and recent encounters I’ve had. Not once did I ask their story. But what if I had? What would I have heard ?
Likely stories of pain. Maybe longtime family dysfunction. Anger and bitterness. Emotional, physical, sexual abuse. Poverty and unemployment. Physical and/or mental illness. Domestic Violence. Addiction. And in many cases, the lack of “a village.”
EVERYONE has a story. And everyone is fighting some battle. Some due to poor decisions maybe, yes. But who are we to judge? We do not know their whole story. We have not walked their path in life.
When you say yes to fostering a child, you sign up to support a FAMILY. A family in crisis. A family with a story.
Reunification is the goal. Because children belong in families. And their family is what’s best for them…until it’s not. It’s complicated for sure. But what I do know is that my job is not only to love on these kids, but to love and support their families. To be FOR them. For moms and dads that have a story. Parents who may have been in foster care themselves. Or who struggle with mental illness and/or addiction. Or homelessness. It’s easy to judge. But maybe their addiction began as a means to dull the pain of being on the streets, of depression and anxiety, of being sexually assaulted, of being “forgotten” and having no one else to turn to. No one would choose this life. Life with some other family raising THEIR children. No one.
And I think once you truly take the time to understand someone, you realize how much more alike we all are than different. Just different demons plaguing us, different “coping mechanisms”, and different levels of support throughout life.
That “bio mom”…that could be me. I am flawed. I have sinned. I have struggled. My own family has some brokenness as a result of addiction and mental health. BUT I have always had “a village”. I have always had resources. I have my health, my supportive & loving husband, my family, financial security, a safe home, plenty of food to feed my picky toddlers and money to buy more, a safe vehicle, a full tank of gas. Oh and I can’t forget- money to pay babysitters if I (we) need a break! Thank you God. And quite honestly, I STILL find motherhood to be very HARD. Incredibly rewarding and fun, but HARD.
So, before I begin this journey as a “resource mom”, I pray for all those moms (and dads) out there struggling. For all those lacking that “village” of support that is so crucial in raising children, in this world especially. I pray that God places people in their paths to support them, to show them love…love without judgement. I pray that they receive the resources they need for themselves and their children. And I pray that the number of children in foster care stops rising every month in the US. That someday there is no need for “more foster parents”.
Because in the time it took you to read this blog post, 2 more children entered the US foster care system (A child enters the foster care system ~2 min). Two more children were ripped from their families, their homes, their schools, their friends in their communities, their pets, and maybe even their own siblings.
This world is BROKEN.
Romans 3:23- “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Luke 6:31- “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”