Spring is a season full of dichotomies. The weather has been extreme (at least here in Southern California)—two days ago it was nearing 90 degrees; today, it’s raining across Orange County. Flowers and Super Blooms and all that green and splashes of color are rising; as are everyone’s allergies. It’s a beautiful season, but it’s complicated and sometimes an irritant, as we adjust from the thrills of winter and navigate this season of now, and not yet, that is Spring.
May, specifically, is an interesting one for me. It’s Mother’s Day month; where my husband will attempt something sweet, and our kids will bring home cards from school, and our daughter might give me some extra snuggles. We’ll probably do some extended family time and I’ll get to hear some innocent and thoughtful affirmations from our sons. I’ll remember that two years ago, I hated this holiday because I experienced severe loss of our two sons (they were reunified from our foster home, and brought back to us last year). And I reflect on how much can change in a year, or in a day, and how we almost lost our kids forever. How I started, after two years of not hearing from them or seeing them, finally taking down all their pictures and drawings that still decorated, and, in some ways, haunted our house. It felt like the right time to move on, to pack it all up, and focus what was in front of me. Until a few days later, when it wasn’t. Now, our fridge is full of their drawings; every frame filled with memories of our full, and complete, reunited and restored family.
May is also Foster Care Awareness Month.
Now, I’m not sure who decides what months are awareness months, and why they chose May, but I can’t look past the irony (or intentionality) of Mother’s Day residing smack in the middle of a time to bring attention to orphans in our neighborhood.
Each Mother’s Day I’m faced with a challenge and a push back residing within myself—I feel unable and numb to fully enjoy the day since becoming a biological mom to my daughters, because I remember the loss of our two foster sons. Now that they are back with us, and that we are in the process of adoption, I can’t help but remember those days. Call it trauma or a grudge or whatever, but I call it perception, hindsight, and (growing) wisdom.
I don’t want to go back to days without grief present. I don’t want to let my grief rule or drive me, but I never want to forget that pain of yesterday because (a) my joy today is more genuine because of it and (b) because there are still 400,000 kids across the nation in limbo (aka the foster care system) and (c) I still have countless friends made because we shared this in common: we loved and lost children—whether through miscarriage, failed adoption, foster care, or all the other painful ways mothers have unwillingly said goodbye to someone tiny they loved dearly.
We must do better on this day. We must see others more. We must tread more carefully and intentionally in how we approach Mother’s Day.
We must do better for foster kids. The 400,000 across the nation. The 20,000 throughout California; the 3,000 in Orange County. The ones who are emancipating to no home, who are finding shelter in a jail cell or finding love in a risky relationship. We are not doing enough and what we are doing now is not working.
This month, let’s get creative. Let’s be awkward and ask questions of how to better love the moms that have lost. And let’s be vigilant and strong, and loud, and risky, for the ones who have no one speaking up for them this month. This is our month to do something, to say something and be shelter for the orphans who are our neighbors, and the mothers, who are our sisters.
How do we do something? I recommend getting to know more about these organizations that are doing good work. They need more people to join them and support them. Will you consider what role you can play?
Teen Leadership Foundation Teen Leadership Foundation works directly with the most vulnerable in our county by offering sustainable housing and empowering mentorships for foster youth that have aged out of the system’s support (usually at 18 years old).
Ezrah’s Hands Ezrah’s Hands assists kinship families (relatives or family friends that step in to provide stable loving homes for children whose parents are no longer able to care for them). Often times kinship families face additional hardships without any financial or community support by the system; these are the foster children and families that fall through the cracks.
Home4Good If you’re looking to buy or sell a house, this team of realtors lowers their own commission and uses the difference to fund adoptions and support foster families.
Safe Families Safe Families connects vulnerable children with temporary host families, preventing the need for foster care. They create extended-family–like supports for desperate families through a community of devoted volunteers to keep families together.