Wednesday, October 09, 2013

How can awareness be raised without sharing?

I've struggled with something off and on over the last few months.  Awareness is being raised for so many things: good things!  I see Facebook posts and commercials for breast cancer research and leukemia research.  I see posts to raise funds for international adoption or sponsoring a child.  I see people signing up to walk for 3 days or ride for 150 miles.

Through all of these awareness campaigns, people share their story.  They are a survivor of ______ or a family member died with _______________ or they know a cure is needed for ________________ or a child needs food, water, shelter and clothing.  They don't just give a snippet.  The ones that bring a tear to an eye, stir the heart strings and actually RAISE awareness are the ones that include pictures, lengthy stories of heart ache, lessons learned, grief felt or victory celebrated.

How can I do that for fostering?  How can any foster parent raise awareness?  I've really been struggling with this.  Because, awareness NEEDS to be raised.  But how?

I can't post pictures due to safety and security.

A huge part of foster parent training includes the privacy of the child.  It is not MY story to share, but HERS and therefore, I have no right to share it.

I can talk about some of the activities we do together.  But that's what any parent does.

I can talk about SOME of the successes.  There are SO many I cannot share, due to privacy.  I can't share our schedule or even all of our activities.

How?  How does a foster parent raise awareness?  I don't mean for me.  I don't mean for any one specific foster parent.  I mean for the hurting.  I mean for the innocent.  I mean for the casual organization that is foster parents.  There are support groups.  We are a tight knit bunch, but anyone is welcome.  We trade clothes, toys, cribs, babysitting and bounce chairs.  We need formula and toys for fine motor and gross motor development.  We would be greatly appreciative for you to sacrifice a few hours to get CPR certified and help us out with babysitting occasionally.  I would love for someone else to teach her how to ride a bike, because she thrives under the attention of safe adults, and I want to show her that adults can be safe.  

How does a foster parent raise awareness?
The heartache.  The success.  The lost of innocence.  The giggling innocence.  The smiles and the tears.  The frustration and the victories.

Believe me.  There are MANY!  Daily victories.  GI-NORMOUS victories.  There is daily heartache, too.  Daily.

Sometimes someone tells me, "I know exactly how you feel.  I know exactly what you're going through." when they don't have a clue.

Sometimes someone asks me a question that is none of their business, and I don't know how to answer them politely.

Sometimes someone tells someone else, "This is Alyssa's foster child." and the LAST thing any foster parent wants to do is call attention to the fact that this little one is different.  NO child wants to be singled out.  It is NO one's business!

How?  How do I raise awareness of what it means to foster a little one that is hurting and in need of a safe and secure place to live?

I can't tell her story.  But believe me, it is a beautiful story.

I've learned a new definition for beautiful.  Beautiful can be hard.  It can be gross.  It can be painful.  It can be carefully, painstakingly woven together.  It can have aesthetic beauty, but it might not always.  Christ's death on the cross was bloody and messy and gory and downright gross.  But, His sacrifice was beautiful.  That is the best picture I have for the word beautiful.

Fostering is beautiful.  It is messy and filled with excitement.  It is joyous and filled with heartache.


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