Yesterday I posted this as my Facebook Status:
Over 20,000 kids a year (27,854 in 2010) age out of the foster care system without a family. When did you stop needing your mom or dad? This number fuels me... 76 kids a day being forced to walk into the world without anyone committed to them. That fact alone keeps me awake some nights and I'm really puzzled why it isn't bothering others as much as it bothers me.....It sparked an interesting conversation.
But yesterday was one of those days where I did something that "typical" parents do for 19 year old kids. I met Salinda to help her with a car purchase. I'm not going to blog all the details of the drama surrounding why she needed one, and I don't intend to get involved in it, but the bottom line was that she really needed a car and Sadie had some money saved, so she borrowed the money from Sadie and Sadie and I met her here in the Cities to get the car -- because she needed a check and we could write one.
I have a fiercely independent daughter who has not asked me for much the past few years. She is working 2 jobs and taking good care of Gabby. But she needed someone to drive over and write a check that represented money she herself had found. Is the kind of things that parents do.
When Mike got out of jail a month ago or so, he needed someone to help him find a place to live and give him a few hundred bucks to get settled. He is 23. He periodically needs this -- he might always need it because of his disabilities... and we gave it to him. We gave him a bed and a microwave that we didn't need ... I sent countless texts and emails trying to find housing. It was a lot of work and money we could have used for other things -- but it's the kind of thing that parents do.
So what about the 27,854 kids in 2010 who aged out of foster care without a parent? Certainly there were some who had good foster parents who remained committed to them. Some of them reconnected with their families who were fairly functioning.. and they made it OK. But many, many of them didn't fair so well. And let's face it... a great number of them are living a live similar to that of LTs.
It's great to be pro-life and insist that all babies be born. But if those baby's end up in the system.... whether as toddlers or teens -- those who were so adamant that they be born need to step up and care for them.
Sometimes it is overwhelming to be the parent of so many kids transitioning to adulthood, but lately I'm finding it to be more of a privilege. Because helping someone get their first car... or settle in after they move to a new town ... or head off to Job Corp... that's what rents are for.
My mom still calls me every Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. my time. I still call her whenever exciting things (or really bad things) happen. Because that's what rents are for.
And if you don't have rents? Or even a rent? Or anyone? What's life like? Nobody should have to find out.