Monday, November 9, 2015

Three Little Words

"Three Little Words" by Ashley Rhodes-Courter

I volunteer with foster youth in my county and this book was recommended to me by another volunteer.  It is a book that highlights why children in the foster system need advocates.  This story is written by a young girl who was in the foster system and her experiences.  This book actually makes me cringe because it is everything that is wrong with our system.  I kept asking, "How could that have happened, how could this have happened?"  Everything that could have gone wrong for this young girl did.  "What had I done that was so terrible that I had to be taken from my mother?"  How many kids think it was something they did?  How man kids think that they weren't good enough?  Many of these children are have self esteem issues believing that they weren't good enough to be loved.  "Behind the scenes, though, she became our champion, and it would be years before I realized everything she had accomplished on Luke's and my behalf."  She is talking about her advocate or CASA worker.  Ashley, the author, didn't know at first how much this worker was doing on her and siblings behalf.  "What I could not avoid was an irrational throbbing for my mother that came in waves." "Besides, the only parent I wanted was my mother, and if I could not have her, then having nobody was better than somebody else."  Foster kids are afraid to be loved and they self sabatoge for fear of being rejected they reject first.  "It's okay not to love us.  And I'm not going to say that I love you, because I haven't known you long enough to feel that way.  I like you very much and I want you to be my daughter forever, but love is something that grows with shared experiences.  I feel the buds of love growing, but it hasn't blossomed yet."  Ashley's adoptive mom first said this to her when she came to live with them.  I appreciate her openness and her honesty.  It takes a lot of time to heal from the hurt these children have experienced and her adoptive mom did not expect instant love.  "You are our chosen child, our only daugher.  We missed so much of your life, and we cannot erase some of the tragedies.  All we can do is help you to be the person you want to be from now on."  Foster parents are heroes, they are courageous people who love the broken back to life.  I am in awe of their dedication and willingness to be in the trenches.  "Children need families, not programs."  "Placement?  We have adopted you.  You're our daughter, so cut the poor-orphan-me crap.  We never had anywhere to send our sons, so why should you be different?"  Ashley was afraid that if she messed up she would be put back into a group home.  Her adopted mom was telling her that she was loved no matter what she did, that this was a forever relationship.  Unfortunately, many kids act out from their fears and hurts and foster parents end up giving the kids back up.  It takes a lot to foster.  "The state had paid her to shelter children who were already wounded, and she broke them further-some permanently.  In addition, I cannot help but hold a grudge against those in authority who were incompetent, negligent, or looked the other way when the system's foster parents were harming us.  So many children in my position have no voice, but I will not be silent.  I will continue to speak out about the importance of getting children into permanent homes more quickly."   Children need homes, they were never intended to be taken care of by an institution.  We need to speak out, these children need a voice.  "Out of these 195 people, only Mary Miller and Martha Cook were unpaid volunteers-yet they are the two people who made the greatest difference in my life."  I'll end with this, make a difference in a child's life, become a CASA worker!  (Shameless plug)

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