Sunday, July 01, 2012

That's What Rents are For....

Did you know that when kids are texting they refer to their parents as rents?  I have to confess that it rubs me the wrong way completely because to me it sounds like they are suggesting that all we are good for is free rent.  Maybe it's my background and the way my kids approach things that has me tainted, but I don't fully appreciate the idea that Bart and I might be referred to as "rents."  But I digress.

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.

15 comments:

QueenB said...

Hm. I find your comment about "those who were so adamant that they be born" to be rather troubling. I am not so sure that all these children who are aging out of the system, who have not been adopted by pro-life persons, were born as a result of their mother being persuaded not to have an abortion. Nor do I think it right, if you follow the thought process, to sublime that those who were born and not adopted, should have been aborted. I also do not think it is right to blame the pro-life person who does not adopt for the aging out foster child's lack of family. You eloquently stated the care and assistance you give to your adult children who might be regarded as lazy, or useless, or expensive, or time consuming, or inconvenient. What if you were unable to, or unwilling to provide for them as you do? Would anyone even think you should consider killing off a family member to solve your own personal dilemna because you cannot meet their needs, and possibly no one else will step up to do so? The abortion/pro-life issue should not even come into play in this problem, because it is not the problem. Eliminating a family member simply to avoid possible future problems shouldn't have a place in the presentation of this problem. As you are well aware, many of the children aging out are deeply troubled for a vast number of reasons, the supports and services are almost non-existent and any adoptive family, pro-life or not, simply cannot meet their needs or handle all that comes with parenting a child with tremendous needs. The lack of pro-life families stepping forward is not the issue-pro-life families did not cause this problem, and should not be blamed for not totally shouldering the solution, nor expected to be the sole solution. You really surprised me with this one.

LT said...

it sucks.

imagine being sick and no-one is there to help.
imagine haveing an emergency and no-one to call.
imagine something good happens and you have no-one to share it with.
imagine no holidays, birthdays, family traditions, or funny stories.
imagine you want to kill yourself, and you know it really doesnt matter to anyone.. because you dont matter.
imagine you killed yourself, no-one would claim you.

is sucks

tashapork said...

No, the term rents is just lazy typing and teen abreviations like vaca for vacation. They are most likely not even thinking about the free rent, just taking it for granted that it will be there. Sadly, they won't appreciate it fully until they have their own families.

Claudia said...

QueenB:

I appreciate your willingness to challenge me and pin me down. I think when I start writing from that really deep passion place, I get careless.

After re-reading my post I can see where you are concluding that I am blaming pro-lifers for what happens to the kids but that wasn't my point at all.

To clarify -- I am very much a pro-lifer which is precisely why Bart and I decided that we should adopt. I guess the point I was trying to make is that sometimes we can be short-sighted when we insist that everyone is entitled to life -- because we don't look ahead to the kind of life they might have.

In other words, we should be equally passionate about caring for the born as we are about protecting the unborn.

I hope that makes more sense and I'm definitely going to be more careful in the future -- what I should have written is that "those of US who are so adamant that they be born." Maybe that would have helped.

flacius1551 said...

Hmm, I'm 43 and I refer to my parents as 'rents. I always thought it was an abbreviation. Sometimes I say "parental units."

However, on the larger point -- obviously. This was also true for my parents, who borrowed occasionally from and paid back their own parents. The idea that anyone can easily become fully independent 18 is a myth and has been been for a long time, not just in economic downturns.

QueenB said...

Claudia, I haven't met you in person but if I did, I would still love you - prickly, cranky, foot-in-mouth, shoot from the hip, honest, funny,caring, thoughtful person that you are! We are all blundering through. And we can all sharpen each other, as you so often do for me. Blessings, N

Jen said...

I cheered when I read your provocative statement. I may have made an inaccurate assumption, but here's how I interpreted your statement: Pro-lifers = Christians and socially conscious people. Correct? If so, then Christians and socially conscious people have the duty to not only believe in, but act upon to the best of their ability, their convictions. If they (we) are not able to adopt those children before they age out, then we need to step forward in some way. Donating money, used clothes, backpacks, suitcases ... praying ... providing adoptive parents an evening off by babysitting/hanging out with the teens ... becoming a mentor or respite provider.

We are more fulfilled as Christians and socially conscious people when we contribute. So there is something in it for us too ;)

I don't think your post was offensive or off-putting. I saw your purpose, and I agree with your mission. I admire your passion and your drive to do everything you can as a Christian and a socially-conscious person to assist those children who have not been blessed with dedicated parents. I think you have progressive ideas, and when your ideas strike a chord in people, you have the ability to light a fire under some lagging butts!

Melissa said...

I'm glad to see someone pointing out the whole "Pro life, who's going to support the results" view.

If someone knows they can't give their child a good life, and knows they're going to be tempted to alcohol/drugs during pregnancy, why not allow abortions (in the earliest possible stages)?

Slippery slope.

tashapork said...

I understood you totally dirrerently on the pro life issue. I have a personal issue with what to me is hypocrisy of a political party. It wants to say no abortions while cutting the safety nets that might help to prevent them. It also says cut regulations on business, but ramp them up in people's personal lives. Its just how I see it. I don't see you as blaming someone, only saying that it is an issue to address.

lisa said...

There is definitely a disconnect when some people who are pro-life insist on cutting services to children who are born. That is not to ever insinuate that a child shouldn't be born - it is to say that we should take care of our own. And the truth is they are all our own, whether we choose to to accept our responsibility as human beings or not.

Kim & Misty said...

You are assuming those children aging out of the foster care system want a family and everything it involves. Five of our adopted children have a family and I guess you could say they have 'aged out' of us. If we are not giving them things then they don't need us, want a relationship with us or have us involved in the things LT posted about. They 'aged out', left and here we sit shocked because they want that good life their bio fams modeled. I am not sure if they will ever 'age in' to our family.

Katie said...

I am so with you Claudia, and I love your posts. Queen B should buzz herself away if she doesn't like what you stand for. Don't read it if you don't like it.
I love your blog, Claudia.

Claudia said...

Interesting conversation -- I have several more things to say, but no time this morning.

Thanks, QueenB for your honesty -- and Katie, thanks for your support. I don't mind buzzing bees reminding me to write more clearly.

I plan to write another post about our kids "aging out" of us -- because that's a good topic. Remind me if I forget ;-)

Mom of 7 said...

Claudia,

I posted the following as my Facebook status, after reading your post and got a lot of positive responses:

****""It's great to be pro-life and insist that all babies be born. But if those babies 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"-------This was written by an adoptive parent who works in the foster care/adoption community. Truer words have never been spoken." *****

This has been my opinion for many years, but I was not able to articulate it as perfectly as you did. While I rarely comment, I am a faithful reader and I wish I could have met you while you were in Williamsburg!

Jen Anderson said...

For what it's worth, shortening "parents" to "'rent" dates back to when I was in college. In 1988.

My parents took offense when they heard it too, but kids were cutting the beginning off of lots of words - "za" for "pizza", etc.