Dear Foster Daughter, I Couldn’t Help You

Dear Foster Daughter,

The day you moved from my home broke my heart. You weren’t the first one to leave but your departure made a massive impact on my life. We struggled to understand each other even though we were just alike. We stressed over the same things and yet could never find a comfortable balance for our relationship.

I worked so hard every day to give you what you needed. I made personal sacrifices to make sure you were being heard. But I still wasn’t doing enough. I still made you mad. I still made you cry. The reality is I couldn’t help you.

That phrase is hard for me to swallow. I get a clump in my throat every time I think of how I failed. How I tried. The promise I made to never see you go. To stay next to you through thick and thin. The promise to not be just another home that gave up on you. Even though you had to go I never gave up. I’m still not going to give up.

I miss you everyday. You brought so much of an impact into my life. We had some pretty awesome times together. Ones I will never forget. Thank you for coming into my life. Thank you for changing my heart and teaching me how to love you better. You may no longer be in my home but I hope one day we can have a strong relationship.

Maybe you’ll be quick to listen instead of ignoring my suggestions. Maybe you’ll see me as someone who wants the best instead of someone who pushes you to live by the rules. Whatever relationship we have I pray that we can mend the broken pieces. That we can one day look back and laugh about how similar we are.

I will always think of you as my daughter. I hope one day you will still consider us family in some way. I pray you will let me know about your life accomplishments. I can’t wait to see you become the young woman I already see. You’re strong, important, wanted, loved, beautiful, funny and so much more. You will impact lives for the better. Don’t give up. Know we will love you forever.

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Foster Care and Sex Trafficking: What you need to know

Currently there are 40 million people world-wide trapped in slavery. The industry earns about $150.2 billion dollars a YEAR. One of the major forms of slavery is sex trafficking. Just this past weekend while many of us watched Super Bowl — 18 survivors were freed and 169 traffickers were arrested in Atlanta. One of the biggest holidays for the sex trafficking industry. This issue is a growing epidemic that’s not just impacting poor countries, but underage kids who are some how connected to the foster system.

According to Salendria Mabrey, with Foster Care Newsletter, foster kids are at a higher risk of becoming trafficked.

Huffington Post reported In a 2013 article that child sex trafficking victims who were recovered by the FBI in a nationwide raid — were children from foster care or group homes.

These are just a few eye opening statistics that show how human trafficking impacts the foster system.

If a child is in an abusive situation often times they may run away to protect themselves. However, this makes them extra vulnerability to becoming targets for trafficking. Reports submitted to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, 4,550 in foster care were runaways. Many between the ages of 12 and 17.

Sadly, as a foster parent I have heard stories of kids who don’t run away but are trafficked by family members. Another reason why these kiddos end up in foster care.

The longer I’ve been fostering the more stories I hear about kids being trafficked here in Indiana. In the first 6 months of 2018, there were over a 1,000 calls to report trafficking and over 700 victims in the state of Indiana. This is according to the Human Trafficking Hotline statistics.

I’ve even spoken to service providers who say its harder to place kids from sex trafficking situations. One reason is because many are teens.

Among the fostering world any teen is hard to place compared to a baby or younger child. Many foster families are terrified of teens so these victims linger in group homes. But what they need is a foster home willing to love them and help them heal. Another reason is because foster families have no clue how to deal with an older child who has been through that kind of trauma. Behavior issues are easy but how do you help a child who has been through sex trafficking?

I don’t have all the answers on how we as a country can tackle this issue. I’ve followed and advocated for sex trafficking victims for many years and will continue to do so. Now, I’m personally seeing the issue a little closer because of the foster system. I believe we can make a difference no matter if you are a foster parent or not.

6 Things you can do TODAY.

1. Educate yourself on human trafficking. Learn more about what it means and how it impacts victims.

2. Learn the signs. Understand the language used towards victims, ways they are lured into trafficking and how to recognize victims.

3. Spread awareness about why porn sites are a gateway to sex trafficking. Many of those girls are victims who are underage. When you engage in those sites you are supporting this.

4. Be open to fostering a child who has been through Sex trafficking. Educate yourself on what to expect and how to help them cope with the healing process. Take training on the topic. Talk to survivors if you can about ways to parent a child overcoming that trauma.

5. Be open to fostering teens. Many statistics show most victims are teens girls. Yes, younger kids as young as 2 can be trafficked but the main targets are pre-teen to teen girls. Don’t be afraid to foster teens. They have so much to offer if they can only find a loving family and a place to heal.

6. Join the EndIt movement. Today, February 7th is where people come together to spread awareness about human trafficking. Many people mark their hands with red x’s and post photos on instagram and Facebook. It doesn’t seem like much but just making people aware is huge. It’s the easiest thing you can do right now.

Please join millions of others as we spread awareness and educate people on this issue.

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To Foster Parents Who Take it Personal

5 Ways to Introduce God to Foster Kids Without Being Pushy

Fostering Teens Who Are Surrounded By Weeds