An open letter to everyone I know. ~ Bess Wilfong
I just returned from one of our Angels’ Arms homes. I feel a strong obligation to share with you what is happening right here in our community.
Far too many of the children coming into care are in situations that are similar to those occurring in third world countries. Every time I encounter one of these situations I am saddened, yet I also know there are so many ways to rectify these issues and barriers plaguing so many families.
Yes, many children come into foster care because they must be removed from abusive and/or neglectful situations. I feel sick everytime I hear one of these stories and then meet these children. Yet some of them come into care because their parent or parents are struggling to make ends meet. They are working and have daycare qualification barriers. Parents are losing their jobs because they have court dates that they are required to attend. Clearly, some of these parents love their children, but they’re stuck: stuck in a cycle that forces them to earn money, but it’s not enough to cover their expenses.
All the finger pointing and blaming in the world won’t change any of this. What WILL change this is understanding that we are all in this together. Those of us raised in loving families with consistent support systems have a responsibility to help others—regardless of how they ended up where they are.
This is not a political issue. This is human being issue that involves each and every person reading this letter to embrace the understanding that it truly takes a village to raise a child, and we all need to be there for each other.
There are countless times that I’ve called on friends and family to help me with my children. Imagine if we didn’t have that safety net. Not everyone does.
If we make caring for our family members our sole purpose in life, we aren’t doing what we should and need to do. If you’re reading this letter, you’re more than likely one of the privileged, as am I, who has all we need and then some.
Real scenario that recently happened: Mom was working. Dad fell asleep, exhausted from working 2 jobs. Two of the younger children managed to get outside, and the police were called out of concern. Upon arrival, the police found the home not in the cleanliest of conditions. The decision was made to have the children brought into the state’s care.
It’s a horrible situation for everyone involved. Rather than condemn anyone’s actions, let’s help.
If you know a foster family, ask them how you can help. If you see a family struggling, find out what you can do. Many of the foster families I know, including the ones living in Angels’ Arms’ homes, are more than open to our community’s help. They often even help the biological parents or relatives or adoptive parents to they can properly care for the child. Sometimes the parents need help getting their place in order. Sometimes the parents need time getting their entire life in order.
I ask you to please think about your life. I know that I am beyond privileged. I have a lovely home, a beautiful family, a dedicated and amazing staff, and some of the best and most dependable friends anyone can ask for. I can’t ask for more.
We all have different personalities, revenue flows, limitations, and talents. The one thing I know for sure is we can all do something. Please be grateful for what you have. If you have a job, be thankful. If you have your health, be ecstatic. If you don’t have great health, but you’re alive, understand that there’s a reason you’re still here. If you have a family, a house, a car, anything at all that so many others don’t have, be thankful.
Be a part of the village. Share the joy that so many of us get to experience when we contribute in a tiny or big way. Just think of the army our Angels’ Arms families have behind them:
- Foster parents who sacrifice so much and who care for them and will advocate to no end to help them succeed
- A group of lovely people who take all of our families on special outings every single month
- People who collect items our families needs
- Dedicated educators
- A personalized denim quilt to keep forever
- Birthday celebrations
- People who buy their class rings, yearbooks, prom attire, and more
- Memberships to recreation clubs
The list goes on and on.
Please be a part of the village. Focusing inward won’t bring you more happiness, but reaching out will give you far more than you ever knew you could have.