I became very, very sad last week. My small group took a detour from our study, went to Panera and then to a short film called the Baby Box. It was the story of a South Korean man and his wife who created this box structure on the front side of their house. Women could bring their unwanted newborn infants, place them in this box, ring the bell and the man and his family would take in the unwanted child. It was a story of pain and passion as this family embraced these children with multiple disabilities.
Isn’t it hard to imagine someone wrapping up their infant, putting them in this box that looked like a giant mailbox, in the hopes that the child would have a better life without them?
It was agonizing to watch.
But, amazing to watch the angels of mercy, in less than, good conditions, devote their lives in this way. ,
In a few short months, our foster daughter will be getting married. We did not raise her. She was in a group home, and two foster homes before she came to live in our home her senior year of high school. Many of you are thinking maybe, well she just lived with you a short time and then hopefully went away for college and still keeps in touch. Easy, no it wasn’t, and it really still isn’t. She was lucky, smart and beautiful and did finish college and does well enough to live on her own. She is the exception to the rule, and is a living example of person growing up in the system, ‘healthy’. Most children moving from the system to our society are emancipated at the age of 18. The majority have no supports in place.
Kelly had us.
Many couch surf.
Most do not have transportation.
Most do not have a high school diploma and very few make it through two years of college.
Many drift back into very, very difficult former family situations.
Substance abuse is common and so and many are homeless or involved in prostitution.
Our jails house many former foster youth. Many of these youth, unless some intervention takes place, are lost forever.
I think we as a country need a giant ‘baby box’ and many need to stand up and support these young people at ‘risk’.
Dave and I came into our situation with our daughter very green, no experience, no one to talk with us about how we needed to proceed. Nothing was expected of us, there was no history given, there was no monetary support or counseling. I expected that she would be off to college and that would be that. Eleven years later, we still are having late night conversations and pow-wows to solve problems. We have been to therapy and back. This journey is not for the faint of heart. On many days I do not have the strength.
But this is exactly what really needs to happen. Children are still children at 18 years old. Those of you with 18 year olds know this. And I’ve said this a million times, their frontal lobe is not full developed until age 25. They need us!
They need you…be open to mentoring a foster youth. Your life will never be the same, if you swing open the door of your heart.
PS I know that this sounds grim, why would you want to sign up for something like this… because of joy…joy comes with justice…and seeing the person whom you’ve invested in dream big, wide and deep…