Nine years ago my family and I jumped into foster care, completely ignorant to the reality of the children, the parents connected to them, and the complexities of those relationships.
I viewed myself as a hero of sorts, who came in and rescued these children from their evil parents who deserved to lose their children because of the choices they had made. What I can tell you now after years of involvement with the kids and parents who find themselves involved in the broken system of foster care is that THEY have been the ones who have rescued me. Now, I fight for other women’s right to parent.
The kids and the families connected to them who we have met through foster care have been the heroes who saved me from myself, opened my eyes to things I could not see, and expanded my heart. I have seen parents who cannot safely parent their children yet love them with a love that will not end, even though their rights to parent may have ended. I have also seen many parents who CAN parent their children but completely lack of connection and support. Many of the young moms who find themselves involved in foster care have spent time in the system themselves. They may have even aged out of foster care. Many of them don’t have an extended family to fall back on, have unresolved trauma that is brought to the surface by becoming a parent, or simply were never taught how to care for a child.
When children are removed from their home and placed in foster care, attachments become broken and additional trauma ensues. While there are heinous cases out there where intentional and extreme harm has been done to children at the hand of a parent, this is not the majority of the cases. Most often a child is removed from parents who are unhealthy, out of hope, and lacking resources. More often then not, resolving the roadblocks keeping parent and child apart can be accomplished through support and connection.
As a result, the foster care related non-profit that my family and I founded, OneHope27, is working on building a support home in Milwaukee for young moms to aid in quicker and more successful reunifications. We will provide mentorship, connection, support, and someone to walk through the process of foster care with these moms. I wholeheartedly believe that women should have the right to parent their children and that children should have the right to be safe in their own home.
I have seen these women, I have seen their children and I know too well the impact on them personally and on the community when they do not get the support they need to succeed. That’s why I will continue to fight for the right of other women to parent their children, thereby creating a stronger community for all of us.