What is Average?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average family size is currently 3.14 people. There is nothing average about that. How do you have a .14th of a person? My husband and I once had an averaged sized family, one son and one daughter. That was when I was writing the story . . .
Then I gave God the pen.

Our Yearly Tradition: Leavenworth After Christmas

Friday, April 22, 2011

Treasure in the Valpak

Last month’s Valpak arrived in the mail as usual. It was the same familiar blue envelope with many of the same coupons and offerings I’ve seen before. Except for one, and it immediately grabbed my attention.

Nestled between a tanning coupon and a buy one get one free for teriyaki was an advertisement offering a monthly payment if you become a foster parent of a child between the ages of 5 – 17. Finding this advertisement inside the Valpak seemed wrong to me. It just didn’t belong in the same venue as free meals and discounted oil changes.

Has the situation with our foster care system come to advertising our state’s children in the Valpak? Aren’t there any homes in Pierce County that are available to take in older children? Or are there so many children entering the foster care system that the need far exceeds the availability of homes?

Whatever it is, it haunts me that a foster care agency resorted to Valpak to get the word out. It was basically a job offering: take in a foster kid and get paid. Instead, it should have been presented it as a life-changing opportunity. But sadly, it’s often the money that motivates.

I write this with deep conviction. Ten years ago, my husband and I were made aware of the overwhelming need for licensed foster homes in Pierce County. There was no emphasis on the monthly reimbursements. Instead, the emphasis was to invest in these kids and give them what they have never experienced – stability and safety.

That alone was the motivation for us to become foster parents. Our first daughter was 5 years old when she was placed with us. With multiple prior placements in foster homes and two failed adoptions, she had special issues that presented certain challenges. However, through consistent structure and unconditional love, she emerged through her difficult past and is now an active, well adjusted teenager in honor classes and after school sports.

Several years after our first placement, our second daughter came to us at 9 years old. She became a constant companion to our first daughter. We recognized a musical talent in her and immediately got her into piano lessons. Now in high school, she is active in band and is involved in sports.

Several years after our second placement, we were given the opportunity to take in a 15 year old boy. We had some reservations; however, after a family meeting we agreed that we would do what it takes to offer him a life-changing opportunity. He successfully graduated from high school and is currently serving our country in the military.

It was important to us to invest in these young lives so that it would lower the risk of them repeating the cycle from which they came. We did it to “change them,” yet in the process, they “changed us” in the most amazing way.

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