Fostercare · Musings and Personal

Garbage Bags

I was reading an article yesterday in a local paper here in Sacramento, called Inside Arden.

On page 74, among other things, was the call to help provide new clothes to children in foster homes. Sleep Train sponsors this and many other foster child-centered drives numerous times a year; this one goes through the end of June.

In her article, Gloria Glyer said, “Did you know that children who enter foster care often come with just the clothes on they’re wearing? That’s because they have been taken out of their homes or schools before they can pack up their belongings.”

Despite how horrible family life is, it is all a child knows. An old friend of mine whose childhood should have been investigated by CPS told me, You don’t think anything of the horrible living conditions or the abuse; you assume everyone’s family is like that because it’s all you’ve ever known. I would guess – and correct me if I’m wrong, please – that despite the misery, there is a certain comfort in the consistency, even if it’s inconsistent consistency.

Imagine being taken from your home with your parents screaming and protesting. Or, instead of going home from school like everyday, a stranger is there to take you somewhere that isn’t your home or your family.

Pretty rough, huh?

Now, imagine you’re moving from one strange house into another, your only belongings stuffed in a garbage bag.

WHAT KIND OF MESSAGE IS THAT SENDING?!

foster

My daughters are fortunate in that they were never removed from their homes.

Let me explain:

Paige, my youngest, was taken home by her foster mother from the NICU at three weeks. She was five months old when we brought her home. Looking back, I realize the gifts and clothes her wonderful foster mother purchased were sitting on the floor in plastic bags when we picked her up. I never thought about it until now, probably because she was so young and we were focused on carrying her!

P1040626

The first time Payten, my oldest daughter, went into the system, she was dropped off at her biological grandmother’s house, whom she stayed with 60-70% of the time. The second time she went into the system, she was almost three years old. Her biological parents dropped her off directly at our house; we all wanted to make the transition as easy for Payten as possible.

She came with a couple of plastic garbage bags full of things. Her biological father brought them inside and put them on the floor. They contained mostly ill-fitting clothes, though there were some toys, a couple of stuffed animals and books. Sadly, it was probably more than most foster kids take with them when they relocate.

Its It cheese smile

So, why hadn’t this occurred to me before?

Because the girls were so young?

Because they were appropriately dressed, clean and not emaciated?

Most likely it simply didn’t occur to me because I’d never been in that situation, and I take for granted that my life has never been stuffed into a garbage bag and lugged around, the proverbial scarlet letter.

girls garbage

IT BREAKS MY HEART!

If it breaks your heart too, there are ways you can help.

Click on the links below to find out how:

Remember, it’s the raindrops that fill the bucket of love.

4 thoughts on “Garbage Bags

  1. We fostered for over ten years and were legal guardians as well. None came with a suitcase. Rarely did they have anything. The first thing I bought them was their very own pillow, then clothes and toys. They would leave us with a suitcase and their pillow. Some left with 2 suitcases.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I understand this all too well. Our Mary, was picked up from school, in Florida, and brought back to NY after her mother absconded and went there. She came to us (and I’;ll never forget it) in a dirty purple and pink Jacket (probably donated because who needs a jacket in March in Florida) and a small Staples office file box with 3 sweaters and 2 pairs of spandex pants and the clothes she was in. Our other placements have all come with nothing. Not a single thing except what on them at that moment. When we did our MAPP class, they told us about that, but we just couldn;t fathom. So within our class, we started taking donations of stuff and passing them off to DSS peds, and then we started collecting those little rolling suitcases from parents who’s kids had gotten to old for them, and duffle bags for the teens, and it has become a really awesome “swap” operation. IT”S incredible to see a kid receive his super hero rolling suitcase where they can but THEIR things and it belongs to them…good on you for spreading the message to people who just have no idea…it really means the world to kids in the foster care system…the plastic garbage bag has got to go…

    Liked by 1 person

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