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Black History Month: Ode to My Foster Parents

07 Feb

There are many charitable African Americans who fall under the radar that should be honored during Black History Month. I take this opportunity to give special thanks and a real huge shout-out for my foster parents.

In order to understand the gift of a second chance for a child is to first understand the altruistic role of a foster parent. A foster parent is an adult guardian who steps in and temporarily shares his/her home with a child who’s in an emergency predicament. This occurs when a child’s biological parents either abandon their child or create an environment that’s not safe for the child.

I was abandoned at birth and transferred to a temporary shelter for children located in Washington, DC. A few months later, a couple with two grown children 45 miles away rescued me. I could, but won’t, blame my biological parents for their unconscionable decision to leave the hospital without me bundled in my mother’s arms. Most likely, their act was based on survival. My birth certificate told the horrid story in five words —  “fifth live birth of six.” My birth mother was only 24 when I was born and already sacked with four kids. So, as luck would have it, baby girl “Blank” — no first name on birth certificate — would be named by someone unknown, then later welcomed into a foster home in Warrenton, VA. Within a year, these foster parents took another four foster children under their tutelage.

I am aware of the dire consequences and unfortunate statistics for most foster children in the system. In an Annie E. Casey report, it stated that the majority of foster children alumni faced significant challenges in the areas of mental health, education, employment, and finances. After analyzing the Casey report, the National Coalition for Child Reform puts the foster care system at an 80 percent failure rate. These daunting and startling statistics is what makes my foster parents stand head and shoulder above the rest, and with a halo effect for me. We were provided the stability and longevity of staying put with one family our entire childhood lives, which was crucial to our overall mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. Our foundation was grounded and would last a lifetime. When my foster parents made the decision to accept children into their home, they made a choice and a lifelong commitment to us — not just provide a temporary band-aid.

SharpI want the world to know that my foster parents were very special and unique, and unselfishly provided a home and love to five forgotten adolescents. The Warrenton Five, as I’ll call us, were truly the blessed ones, considering the alternative. From 1952 to their passing in 1978 and 1998, respectively, four of us were fortunate to thrive in their home until we became adults. Sixty years later, three of us are still a significant part of our foster parent’s legacy; and we are siblings bound by the hashtag #fosterchildren. My mantra, the family that prays together, stays together, is a true omen. I’ll never forget that If it had not been for their altruistic love and generosity, we would have undoubtedly been shipped from one foster home to another or spent our entire lives in a shelter facing untold challenges. We were the 20 percent that beat the odds.

Every day is a day to recognize and pay tribute to special and unique individuals who make a difference in the lives of others, and who contribute unselfishly to make the world a better place to live. I take this opportunity, this moment in time — Black History Month — to honor my foster parents who gave my foster siblings and me the wonderful life we enjoy today.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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3 Comments

Posted by on February 7, 2013 in People

 

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3 responses to “Black History Month: Ode to My Foster Parents

  1. jumbledwriter

    February 8, 2013 at 1:45 am

    What a great post. Foster parents can be heroes and it sounds like yours were such the case.
    –JW

     
  2. Lisa

    February 9, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    This is a great love story!

     

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