November 24, 2011
Invite some former foster children who have aged out of the system to your Thanksgiving family events and dinner, as many lack a stable support system. Make them feel loved, wanted, and special. This can make a world of difference to both your family and to your guests.
Have you ever said "yes" to something and then wondered "How on earth am I going to do this?" Okay, I admit that it isn’t a first for me. I have worked to cultivate in myself a spirit of willingness, but sometimes it gets me into a pickle.
I saw on the National Adoption Month calendar the following suggestion: "Invite "aged out" young adults to hang out for the holidays." Now that sounded like a great idea to me! After all, I am aware of the sad statistic that 1 in 5 youth who age out of foster care will be homeless within one year. I cannot even imagine what it would have been like to leave my home at age 18, never to return again and without a family system to fall back on.
So I talked to my hubby and we decided to do this thing. We would have to invite them for Christmas Day, having already decided to leave town for Thanksgiving. Then it occurred to me: I didn't know any foster kids who had aged out of the system. Oops.
I looked at my network of contacts in Child Protective Services. Whom could I get in touch with to help me make this a reality? I finally remember the regional Adoption Services Director who crossed my path briefly last year. I searched my email for her name and then drafted her a note. In case you decide to take on this challenge yourself, here’s my note:
We are a licensed foster family through (our agency) in Williamson County. We would like to invite a young woman who has aged out and does not have a family to spend the holidays with to come have Christmas dinner with us.
I thought as adoption coordinator, you might be a resource for us. Our agency does not tend to get older kid placements so none of our families have had any older kids. My caseworker at our agency is Susie Q and we have also worked with Jane D. Please feel free to call the agency or check with my two friends at CPS, Mary May and Kathy K.
I was a little surprised to hear from her right away. She loves the idea and is checking our references. I am now looking forward to a new friendship!