Tuesday, July 30, 2013

reality bites

This is not a fun post. This is a post about some things that are happening in the news, just in case you, like myself, tend to avoid real news in favor of light-hearted blogs or Facebook posts about how to preserve your child's fingerprints in Jello. (Whoa, cynicism alert. I'm reading a book, ok? Details later.)

This news bites, but sometimes reality bites. If you have kids you know that biting hurts, but it warrants attention, if nothing else. So here is the biting news that warrants your attention, even though you might have come my way for some fluff (which I generally give you, in all reality). I'm sure I'll get some more fluff in by the end of the week, but I want you to know that we don't live our life in a bubble of fluffy happy thoughts. We enjoy life and we are extremely thankful for what we've been given--yes--but we also recognize the hurts of others and sometimes wonder how best to help them or their situation.

I'm referring to this story from Fox news, which you probably didn't even hear about it because not many people seem to be talking about it. (And if you don't trust Fox you can find it here, here, or here.) It explains how the FBI rescued 105 children, the youngest of which was nine years old, from a child sex trafficking ring that included 76 US cities and 150 pimps. This is disgusting. And depressing. And heartbreaking. And truly hard to imagine in America.

Do you know where most of the children who were preyed upon were from? They were from foster homes or they were runaways. That's a fact shared in the first article. In my very humble opinion, it boils down to this: they lacked family. I'm not talking about a foster family. They lacked a true, loving family to which they belong forever. Can you imagine what it's like to exist in a family without knowing what your future holds regarding a family? Imagine just staying there but not being able to call anyone who cares for you "Mom" or "Dad." Such an uncertain life. Or imagine knowing you're just in a foster family for a while because your biological parents couldn't or wouldn't make you a priority. This puts you either in a foster family or out on the streets because your own parents wouldn't provide the basic necessities, a category in which I include love and affection. Imagine living in a family without affection or with abuse and neglect, so much so that you'd rather live alone. It's enough to make kids go searching for their own forms of affection, and they'll usually find it, although it might be a counterfeit kind of "love" or "affection" that only lasts a little while.

So these slimey low-lifes see a hole in a kid's life, a need for a sense of belonging and affection, and they prey on them, coercing them into a lifestyle that they'll never get out of unless there is some sort of huge 76-city intervention. Thank God for that.

Foster care parents, this obviously isn't your fault, so don't misinterpret me. This sort of thing doesn't happen because you don't do your job as foster parents or because you don't care enough about the welfare of children, or even because you aren't planning to adopt the kids you've cared for. You are doing what you can to help, and you are OBVIOUSLY doing amazing things in the lives of children. We--not to mention the kids you're caring for--are absolutely thankful for the care you give those who cannot repay you. This sort of thing just happens when families do not function in the way they were intended and when slimeballs get their grimey hands on kids.

Don't let the fancy American houses and manicured lawns fool you, our nation is sick. And the worst part, to me, is that I don't know what to do about this problem. We--my husband and I--are adopting from Africa because we know the likelihood of an orphan being forced into sex slavery or dying from some easily treatable disease is high. But what about America's children? I, obviously naive to a lot of American problems because I avoid the depressing news, had no idea that so many children in our own nation were being coerced to become sex slaves.

But we can only do what we can do. So, really, foster parents, I applaud you like never before. You are doing what you can do, and that might just mean you are changing a life by providing a home. You might be changing five lives, or 25 lives, even hundreds of lives over the course of history. Through adoption, we believe we have changed the course of Brody's life, we are doing what we can for one child or more in Africa, and I can continue to make a stink about what's happening in America and abroad so the people who might read my fluff from time to time can also read about the kind of reality that bites.

I don't write so that you will adopt or become a foster parent or FBI investigator. I don't even write so you'll comment or repost. I write because this is reality, it bites, and writing is the one thing I feel like  I can do to help the cause. Because when you can't do it all, you do what you can.