I wish to lift up my voice, inviting everyone to protect and to care for children, so that nothing may extinguish their smile, but that they may live in peace and look to the future with confidence.
Pope Benedict XVI, during his March 2012 visit to Mexico
Writing about foster care is quite easy for me. I’m proud to say that I have a good number of foster nieces and nephews. It started when two of my relatives would visit their friends regularly who had foster children. Over the long years, they provided a home and family for over 30 children. Inspired by their friends, my two relatives believed that they were called to bring foster children into the family.
In total they took in close to 30 children as well. As a foster uncle, I can say that our family treated our new family members as their own children. Everything was equally shared, especially at Christmas time. The money used for gifts were equal. This means that if one child’s gift was $50 and another $55, the child who received the lesser money was given the balance that was used for the more expensive gift.
It was a great joy to watch my nieces and nephews grow up and to watch them mature into adulthood. I communicate with them regularly and they and their children call me, “Uncle.” My related nieces and nephews always treated them as true members of the family, identifying them as brothers, sisters, and cousins. I am very much involved in family genealogy, and I have all my foster nieces and nephews listed in the Family Tree. While I keep their last names, I do not indicate that they are foster children.
There are moments of sadness with foster children. Truly we are grateful that the children are returning to their parents, but this is also a moment of sadness, especially when a child is with us over a year or two. For many, connection is lost once the child is gone for over a month or two. We all remember the very first child who came into our family circle. She was adorable. After about a year, she was returned to her mother. Today we still mention her and wonder how she is doing.
You can tell when foster parents are doing a good job caring for their children. One of the signs is when they receive a telephone call, requesting them to take in emergency cases. This can be for overnight or for several months until the child’s safety and care are assured for returning to his/her parents. Additionally, my niece and her husband received an award for their outstanding care of children. My niece followed the footsteps of her parents in taking in foster children.
Opening your home for a child who needs food, clothing, and shelter is truly a calling from God. It is a gift of love and compassion for the misfortunate ones. In this issue of JPIC Corner, we will discuss what foster care entails and the responsibility necessary to care for God’s children. We will also list various agencies that provide information on foster care.
Br. Warren Perrotto, MSC