A Foster Parent’s Perspective – Preventing Child Abuse
When Penny asked me to write a guest blog for National Child Abuse Prevention month, I said ‘yes!’ Then I thought, ‘What have I done? ‘ I don’t know anything about child abuse Prevention. I know some about child abuse. I know a little, and I stress little, more about dealing with abused children. But, prevention – not so much.
So, here we are – National Child Abuse Prevention month. While I do not claim to be an expert in any sense of the word, I do believe that these thoughts are practical ways that will reach multiple generations, if we are willing to say yes.
My husband and I have been foster parents for the last 16 months. Fostering has opened our eyes to a broken, overworked system that focuses on putting out immediate fires with little regard for long term consequences. Please understand, the system is broken – not necessarily the people who work in the system.
One really great person that works in this system is the Child Advocate or CASA volunteer. We have the most amazing CASA volunteer and are blessed to be in a county that requires every child be assigned a volunteer. The CASA volunteer’s job is simply to speak on behalf of the child. Because, they are volunteers, they work with the kids because they WANT to, not because they have to. These volunteers provide the child a voice, that isn’t looking out for their own interests – like attorneys, CPS, judges, etc. So, what can you do? If you are not a foster parent, sign up to be a volunteer. Be the voice of an abused child and help prevent abuse for the next generation.
Our fostering process has had SO many ups and downs. Our intention has always been that we would adopt one or more children through fostering, which is the riskiest decision we have ever made. I’m not good at making relationship boundaries; I’m an “all in” kinda girl…which makes fostering SO hard for me. Anyway, about 10 months into fostering our daughter, I had an epiphany. While losing a child would be the worst loss of my life, I get the opportunity to lay a foundation of love, hope and joy for a child whose foundation would have been abuse, drugs, drama and who knows what else. That, my friends, may be the ultimate way to personally impact the prevention of child abuse, the riskiest perhaps, but worth it.
So, remember at the beginning when I said we have to be willing to say yes? Well, that may be the hardest part!
Melody, from I Heart…small kitchen appliances, is a wife, mom and children’s pastor who currently resides in the Greater Houston area. She enjoys creating – food, crafts and organized chaos! When she isn’t at home or church you will find her behind a 1929 baby grand practicing for a choral concert.