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‘I Am More Than’: Debunking the myths about foster kids and foster parenting

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When I tell people I am a foster parent, I get lots of questions. “Don’t you get attached to the kids?” “Isn’t it hard?” “Aren’t the kids troubled?” 

The answers are yes, yes and yes. 

The last one hits me hard. It’s unfortunate that foster kids get a bad rap. Foster kids – a label that brings baggage of a long case file, a troubled childhood and grim statistics.

But consider for a moment what these kids have been through. Each year, 3.3 million children are the victims of abuse. Through no fault of their own. And they are so much more than their case file.

The bottom line, is like all kids, foster kids just want to feel loved and safe. And sometimes getting to that takes a little creativity, and a lot of patience. 

Portrait of young Hispanic woman in downtown city, New York City

I had one youth who came into my home thinking I would love her more if I thought she liked fruits and vegetables. When the conversation about the fact that she didn’t like all fruits and vegetables (after all, who does?) turned into a meltdown, we ended up together running down the street, stomping our feet and yelling about what we hate about foster care.

Because you know what? She was angry about not being able to be with her family. She has a right to be angry. And it was my job to help her express this anger in a safe way. Afterwards, we got ice cream, calmed down and talked about what we wanted to do that weekend.

Are there challenging moments? Sure. But doesn’t every child have challenging moments? 

The foster kids who come through my door are just like any other kids. They are funny. Resilient. Stubborn. Loving. They are healing, and they have their own hopes and dreams for the future. 

I’ve been fortunate to work with SAFY of Colorado to foster a number of children. Being able to nurture these kids, show them what a safe and loving home is like, and help them on their healing journey has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. SAFY’s therapeutic foster care program is amazing, focusing on trauma healing, coping skills and building success in school and life.

With SAFY’s I Am More Than campaign, we are on a mission to debunk the myths about foster children and raise awareness about the critical need for foster parents.

These kids are our future. Just like all kids, they need support to help them live up to their full potential. There are currently more than 5,700 foster youth in Colorado, and there are more referrals than foster families. 

It breaks my heart to think of the statistics facing foster kids:

  • Only half of foster youth graduate from high school by the age of 18
  • 1 in 5 will experience homelessness

Will you join me in being an agent of hope for Colorado foster kids? Take a few minutes to look beyond the case file and think of the difference you can make in the life of a child. Visit www.safy.org to learn more about the process for becoming a foster parent. And help us spread the word with #SAFYIAmMoreThan.

About SAFY

Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY) of America is a national non-profit organization creating healthy youth and families through community-based solutions. Building upon our reputation as a leader in treatment foster care services, our comprehensive home- and community-based programs serve those with social service and behavioral health needs in seven states including Alabama, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, Ohio and South Carolina. To learn more about our programs and services, call 800.532.7239 or visit www.SAFY.org

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