There’s a cry out from the world in the past week: Someone’s got to do something.
I’ve heard it loud and clear from both supporters and critics of president-elect Donald Trump.
But who should so something? And what should they do?
I propose we each do something, and that something is whatever we can do to make the world a better place. Be the change you want to see.
My wife and I were concerned about the future of the country. There are so many children growing up without stable mothers and fathers. So many kids grow up with drugs in their households. Too many of these children just don’t have a fair shot to make America great again.
We could complain about it, or we could do something. We chose to do something. We became foster parents.
We’ve had our first two placements, a 3-year-old boy and a 3-month-old boy, in our home for a month now. It’s an insanely hard job raising someone else’s children well, balancing the needs of our natural children.
It’s difficult asking for permission for things as seemingly inconsequential as a haircut. It’s no fun when a child fights back with the all-too-true words that you’re not their mom or not their dad. It’s terrifying when you put the clues together about the life these children once considered normal.
It’s ridiculously rewarding too. These children are so grateful for things my three daughters just take for granted. They love all the attention they receive in our home. They know they’re safe, something we all really take for granted.
And I know, in my own small way, I’m helping improve the world, one child at a time, starting with these two boys.
People frequently ask us if it’ll be hard to let them go some day. We know we’re probably not their “forever home.” Their goal is to return to their mother, who they visit twice a week. That means we have to be supportive of their mother as she fights her own demons to become a better person and a better mother.
While we recognize her demons, we can’t demonize her. After all, she’s still “mom” to these two, and no child should have to believe his mother is a monster. So while we occasionally have to listen to the 3-year-old talk about wanting to live with him mom and his perception that we “took him,” we know we’re setting him, his mother and his little brother up for real change.
Do we wish we could keep them in our home forever? Of course. When you offer unconditional love to anyone, it’s hard to think about that relationship ending. We know our role, though, is to love them and take care of them. It’s no different from our birth daughters, who we also know one day we’ll have to let them go too, although we suspect they’ll stay in contact with us for advice and money.
Hopefully our efforts change the trajectory of these lives. At a minimum, it changes the here and now for these little guys who are too small to deal with the harsher realities of life.
Foster care isn’t for everyone, but there is something out there for everyone to do. There are countless volunteer organizations available to donate your time and talents. There is something out there for each of us to do to make things better.
This is what real change looks like. It’s one person doing one thing to try to improve the world. We don’t need a presidential campaign or an act of Congress to accomplish it. Individually, we need to find something we’re passionate about and do what we can do to help.