Yesterday, I had a couple meetings to attend to in Lorain County, a place that I used to live. It took me a couple hours to get there, which is no big deal. But, while I was there, I decided to visit with 2 of my sons… For those of you who didn’t already know, my wife and I used to be foster parents. We probably had between 25 – 30 children live in our home during our fostering season. Every one of those children are my sons and daughters.
Anyway, I decided to go early and surprise them. The big surprise was that I waited until I was 45 minutes away to notify them that I was coming. I called M and simply asked him what he was doing and “by the way… I’ll be there in a little bit. Can you call D?” I took them out to breakfast and it was GREAT!!! We had a phenomenal time and they are planning to come down to Columbus this weekend to visit. The crazy part is that the last times that we all were truly together… the boys were being lead away in handcuffs.
They were troubled teens with adult problems. They had been in ‘the system’ for way too long (several years for one and over 10 years for the other)… still in foster care being bounced from one home to another. And as far as ‘the system’ had gone, these boys were marked as trouble, destined to fail and end up in jail.
You see, the problem that I’ve had with the foster care/ adoption system had never been the children. They don’t have a real say in what’s going on in their lives. The problem that I had was ‘the system’ itself. Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of really good people working IN the system but there were a lot of flaws. Please note that I am speaking in the past tense. I am not currently in the system. I can’t speak to what’s happening TODAY but I can speak as recently as 2 years ago…
I’ve learned that the problem with social work is just that… social work. These two words don’t even match!!! Who mixes the two? Those who have the heart for the children and keeping them safe are inundated with so much work that the love for them gets lost. Then you have the children being treated as just another number to be processed because, “we gotta move these cases”. These are real people, not just numbers!!!
Fortunately / Unfortunately, both of these boys did exactly what the system expected of them. They went to jail as teenagers. BUT, they didn’t stay there!!! I remember receiving the letter from M where he apologized to my wife and I for not listening to us and how he realized that we were right and finally, how he had made a turnaround in his thinking. He was still locked up but he started going to church, singing in the choir, reading his Bible and trying to better himself…
Today, my boys are men, productive men. Men who are trying to help those ‘younger guys’ not make the same mistakes that they did; men with heart and compassion; men with standards… It was funny just listening to them talk to each other. At one point, I WAS just the ‘fly on the wall’ and it was great!! One thing that was especially cool was… listening to them talk about other people using the excuse of having a record as a reason not to have a job. All I could say was, “Wow!!” But, you know what… these boys were NOT ‘easy to love’. It took effort. It took prayer. It took us to re-evaluating our “Why?” for doing foster care. I had to beat back the tears. Disappointment was always nearby. It took a lot!!! But, they were worth fighting for!!!
Now, they have families of their own and I have some beautiful grandchildren!! I’m a proud Papa!!! I’ve been watching them on Facebook and I’m glad that we actually reconnected!!! The business part of my trip is still in the works but seeing these MEN is worth more than any deal that I could’ve had on the table!!! Priceless…
Who do YOU need to reconnect with? The process is easier than you think. Don’t allow fear, or anger, to stop you from reconnecting with past loved ones. God is the ultimate coordinator and party planner. All things have happened for a reason and TODAY is the first day of the rest of your life!!! Put the past behind you and let’s move forward!!!
I love you ALL!!!