May is National Foster Care Month

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Today marks the first of 31 days proclaimed as National Foster Care Month.  I want to extend my appreciation to those who live this amazing life day after day. We all do this for many reasons, we told ourselves as we embarked on this journey that it is about keeping children safe, helping them heal, but we soon find out that we make changes within ourselves that we could never have predicted. Our entire future is forever affected by what we live with these children every day, and even after they leave us we hope we have impacted their lives as much as they have ours. I ask each of you to also consider impacting the lives of other foster, kinship, and adoptive families. Our roles may be different but the children are the same, as are the physical and emotional demands of parenting children of trauma.

“It is only as we develop others that we truly succeed”. – Harvey S. Firestone

Your lives and mine have experienced a considerable amount of unanticipated changes and yet the resolve to fulfill our passion, commitment and love for these children hold strong. Most of us seriously had no idea what we were “getting into” and some thought of getting out but you didn’t, you found out that these children change you in ways that only other foster, kinship and adoptive families understand.

“Experience is the hardest teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterward.” – Unknown (sounds like a weathered foster parent)

We hear time after time that it is about the best interest of the child and no one understands like we do that there is nothing healthier for a child than an educated, enriched and empowered parent. To that end, I encourage you to network with other families, share your truths with them, help them navigate the storm and be there when the storm subsides, as so often after storms things are clearer or sadly sometimes feel irreparable. You, me, all of us in this community of caregivers need to be caretakers of each other, making sure we see those signs of physical or emotional backsliding and providing those listening ears, making eye contact (listening eyes) to read their stress and hopelessness that they are hoping no one sees. We not only see it, we feel it with them, it takes us back and in a number of ways re-energizes us because we made it over that hurdle, sometimes many hurdles.

“Sometimes our light goes out but it is blown into a flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled the flame.” – Albert Schweitzer

The current Board of Directors of the NFPA consists of primarily of foster parents and several of them have become amazing trainers of foster, kinship, and adoptive parents. Many of us have adopted, and some of us are now kinship families, but at the core, we are all people that started on the same journey in life and want to make a difference for families on this journey.

“What you care about, what you care for, what you spend your energy to support, results in the value for your life. What matters most is not what it is, but how much you care, how freely you give of yourself. Ralph Marston

Our Communications Chair, Shawn Johnson has expanded the Facebook page and it has become an outlet for parents across the country to network and share, and an outreach for families needing to connect. Please continue to recommend that others join the page and encourage and empower those currently posting or replying on the page.

“Be someone who listens and you will be heard. Be someone who cares and you will be loved. Be someone who gives and you will be blessed. Be someone who comforts and you will know peace.” Ralph Marston

Pat Llewellyn

NFPA President