I am the youngest of three boys. But it was very rare that I felt that way as I was growing up. I often had another brother or sister, or two or three, around the house. When I was born, I came into a house with two older brothers and two older sisters. At one time, I remember having two older brothers, and three younger brothers and one younger sister. Some of them stayed for just a night or two. Some stayed for a couple of weeks or months. A few stayed longer than that.
You see, until the time I was 13 years old, my parents were foster parents.
So besides my brothers Stephen and Aaron, I had quite a few other brothers and sisters. We've tried to remember all of them, and that's almost an impossible task, but here are some of the ones that I remember more vividly: Steve, Carlos, Lana, Lacey Dawn, Amber, Carmen, Jenny, Todd, Renae, Michael, Kevin, Jackie, Janet, Amy, Mike, Nick, Matt, Mark, Timothy, Daryl, Dawn, Jeremy, Brian, Brandon, Trisha (I think... those last four were siblings and four extra kids in the house was a bit much, so unfortunately Jeremy and Trisha, the younger two, were put with a different family in town). There were others whose names I don't remember. Like the boy who came to stay with us while Lana was there, and she shaved his head (it was a mutually agreed upon decision). And there are a few others whose faces I remember, but the names escape me.
But even those that I do remember are quite a few. And to have that many rotate in and out of one house in 14 years or so, doesn't give any sort of continuity or stability for these poor kids. A friend who works in the foster care system shared a little bit of information with me: The average young person living in foster care experiences one placement change a year. A young person who spends most of their life in foster care will likely have lived in at least 17 different places in his or her lifetime.
That's unfortunate, isn't it? That during a time in their life that would most likely be tumultuous and full of transition and uncertainty anyway (c'mon, it IS childhood and adolescence!), they'd be forced to endure even more by bouncing around from house to house, and family to family, hoping for a nice spot to land.
Well, May happens to be National Foster Care Awareness month. So why not go and make yourself aware of Foster Care and the young people who are affected by it? And then see if there is a way that you can get involved to help out.
You know, I don't know what happened to most of my foster brothers and sisters. I know of one or two that were adopted, some by family members. A couple contacted my parents years after they left our house, some of them now with children of their own. But as for the majority of them, I have no idea what happened to them. I'd like to think that they went on to lead happy lives. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. But, I hope, for the time they lived with us they knew that at least two adults cared for them and wanted the best for them.
Why not be an adult like that in the lives of youth in foster care? Go here to find out how you can be!!