This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is September 2007.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.
I had been told when I received the first call about these two little boys that they were foster children, not foster-to-adopt. The difference is with a foster-to-adopt child, the legal rights of the parents have already been terminated. For a foster child, they are in the system because they have been removed from their biological parents for reasons that are unique to each case. Reasons for removal can ranger from neglect all the way to actual physical or sexual abuse.
With the case of these two little boys, I was told that they could be in our home anywhere from 6 months to a year. It was not my ideal dream, because I didn’t want to ever have to let go of any child that we would have placed with us, but there was always the possibility that the rights of the biological parents would be terminated. If they were in our home, we would be the first to have the option of adopting them.
I am sure from the outside, reading this, that this sounds so harsh. How can I hope that someone’s rights for their biological child are terminated? Please let me make myself very clear before I go any further. It is my absolute belief that the absolute best place for a child is with their biological parents- IF, AND ONLY IF the child is in a healthy, safe and secure environment. If those three things- health, safety and security- are not the priority of the home- it is NOT in the best interest of that child to be with their biological parents just because they share the same DNA. It is not at all a biological argument, it is child’s well-being argument. If a child is in an unhealthy, unsafe or insecure place, they should be removed- biological, foster, adopted, day care, school, extra-curricular activity. This is just basic common sense- or, should I say, I would assume that this would be basic common sense. As I have stated throughout many of my articles it appears that common sense is a thing of the past! I have learned through our experiences in the Foster Care System that common sense is most definitely missing in regards to the rights of a child. More often than not, the “rights” of the biological parents are put before the rights of the child in the eyes of the law! It is absolutely appalling, but as you will see as our journey unfolds, the proof glaringly obvious!
Back to our story.
Within just a few days of the boys arriving to our home, the oldest one had a birthday. He was turning 4-years-old. Of course we planned a birthday party for him. He was so overwhelmed! Though we had invited just our closest friends, he received an abundance of birthday presents! We did not realize until later that he had probably never had a real birthday party. While I was so excited at the thought that we had the honor of giving him what was more than likely his very first birthday party, I was also overwhelmed with sadness- and anger- to realize that he had never had this joy given to him. Even if you are not wealthy you should be able to save up enough through the year for a very small birthday party! How much is a package of cupcakes? Kids do not expect extravagance!
It was the most amazing feeling in the world to be a mommy! While the youngest little boy could not talk yet, and the oldest little boy did not call me mommy, but chose instead to call me “Ms. ‘Llenah”, I was in fact their mommy at this point in their lives. This is not something that I took lightly. This was the most amazing honor, to know that I had been entrusted with these little lives.
There is a detail in this story that I have left out up to this point that I must add. For me and my husband it was not an issue at all. The only reason I am going to share this detail with you now is because it is something that I must bring to light, and to tell this part of the story, this detail must be shared.
These two little boys- our first two foster children- are black. For the record, my husband and I are very white! I was told in the initial phone call their race, and it never fazed me. I did not care what color their skin was! I just wanted to love them!
It now becomes an important part of the story because it saddens me to realize that racism still runs so deep in the veins of our country. We can deny it all we want, but the reality is that there is racism that runs deep in all races. It is not just in the white community, racism exists in every community. Just as I, as a Caucasian (“white”) woman, am not racist, there are white people that are racist. There are black people that are not racists. There are black people that are racist. There are Hispanics that are not racists. There are Hispanics that are racists. There are Asians that are not racist. There are Asians that are racist. We cannot put a label on any one group because of a select group within that group.
I believe that the breeding of racism is actually fueled by every facet of our government. If it were not, why is it a question that is asked on every single legal and government form? The color of my skin does not determine my character, just as it does not determine yours.
I have taken a detour on this issue because it is another passion that is dear to my heart, as I am sure you can see by now. In fact, with our current President, it seems that anyone who opposes him is a “racist”. I laugh- a very sad and ridiculous laugh- when I am called a racist or a bigot, which actually happens more than you probably would imagine due to the fact that I am heavily involved in political conversations online. If they only knew half of my views and actual life choices they would realize how ridiculous their words are. If they only knew the truth! But then again- most of these people who want to throw the race card around wouldn’t know truth if it jumped up and hit them in the face! Oh well. They are the ones with egg on their face, not me!
While I am very passionate about my convictions on this topic, I also realize that there are many who choose to live in ignorance. That is their prerogative. They will never know the many wonderful people they are missing out on knowing because they cannot see past the color of their skin.
I have tried to deal with this passionate conviction of mine by ignoring the ignorance of others. There are just some people that refuse to admit they may be wrong about something.
One Saturday, we took the boys to eat pizza. I was oblivious to everything and everyone around me. I was a mommy, and I was enjoying every single moment of it! As we were leaving, I could feel my husband’s tension. I asked him what was wrong. He said nothing was wrong, but I knew better. Something was just not right with him! I knew that there were no conflicts between the two of us; the boys had been perfect little angels; and there had not been any conflict that I could see while we were eating. As I continued to question him, he told me we just needed to leave.
I finished wiping up the boys, and we headed out the door. My husband told me he would tell me what was going on when we got in the car.
Once we got the boys buckled into their car seats, and were driving away, he told me that there was an older white man in the restaurant that seemed to be appalled that we- a white couple- had two black children. My husband said every time I would wipe one of the boy’s faces, or give them a kiss, or tickle them, or whatever else I would do with them, he would grumble and scowl at me. He said it was all he could do to keep his mouth shut and not tell the man off.
I began to chuckle. My husband turned quickly and asked me what was so funny. I told him how sad it was that this man could not see past his own insecurities. He had to pass judgment on us, knowing nothing of our situation. I am by no means saying we deserve, need or want special attention or accolades for the call that has been placed on our hearts. It is actually quite the opposite. We are doing this because we have been called by God for a purpose. But this man has no idea the joy he is missing out on! All he could see is two very dark black little boys receiving love and affection, hugs and kisses from a very white couple. How could that be?
Love. Plain and simple. Love does now know the boundary of colors. Love is love. And strangely enough, it was not until my 30’s that I truly understood what love is. It is not at all what our society defines it as. I will have to write an article on this later, because I believe it is an intrinsic part of our journey. Love. Such a beautiful thing that is so misunderstood!
One of the most interesting details to this story is that overall, my husband is usually the very calm side of our marriage. I tend to be the irrational, impetuous, spout-off-at-the-mouth side of our marriage. In this instance, our roles were reversed. It took everything in him to remain calm and quiet, while in my obliviousness to this man’s racism, I was very calm, even after knowing the situation.
His ignorance did not matter the least to me. He was the one missing out. Not me!
The purpose of this series: Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?
The next chapter in this series: Our True Battle Begins
The previous chapter in this series: Finally! The Pitter Patter of Little Feet!