There is a lovely couple at my church that has a heart for children in foster care, yet are unable to be foster parents themselves. For years, now, they have watched my wife and I take care of dozens of children, some staying for a few days, while others staying for several months, and even years. This couple has been a blessing to my wife and me each Christmas, as they have taken the mantle upon themselves of being our “foster grandparents.” Each Christmas season, they purchase presents for every foster child that is in our house. This has helped my wife and me ensure that our children in foster care have an extra special Christmas day, as we share both the message and joy of the meaning of this special day, as well as the joy of receiving gifts under the tree; gifts with a child’s name on it. Sadly, far too many children in foster care have never had gifts to open on December 25th before coming into care.
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My wife and I try to make it a day that the children both never forget, and one that they are able to escape their pain and suffering and simply revel in being a child. Our “foster grandparents” help us accomplish this. Like our dear friends have done, others can reach out to the foster parents in their community and “adopt” a child during the holiday season, or other times of the year. This might also include helping out school supplies at the beginning of the school year, birthdays, paying for school field trips and summer camps, and other activities that are special to the child. Indeed, many foster parents simply cannot afford to provide all of the opportunities to their foster child; opportunities that help the child escape from their trauma, and opportunities to heal from their suffering. When others come together to help the child in such fashion, they are also giving a blessing to the foster parents, as well.
Recently, I have had the blessing and wonderful opportunity to speak to businesses, organizations, and churches across the nation about how they can help children in care. During these key note speeches of mine, I have seen people moved to tears from the stories I have shared with them about foster children. I have listened as others have told me of their inability to have children of their own, yet felt the call to help other children. I have even sat by those who have told me through tears about their own experiences when they were abused and abandoned as a child, and wanted to help those children today who are experiencing a similar fate. In all these occasions, I have seen others looking for ways to reach out to foster children, seeking ways to protect and care for them.
For you see, not everyone is called to be a foster parent. As you know, not everyone has the skills to bring children into their home and care for those in need. To be sure, we are all given different skills and talents; skills and talents that allow us to help children in care. It is my hope during this Christmas and holiday season that you discover your skills and talents, and that you use these skills and talents to help children in foster care. Whether you are a foster parent, a social worker, or one who simply cares for all children and want to be a stronger advocate for them, may you share your Gifts with others, not only during this Christmas and holiday season, but beyond.
-Dr. John DeGarmo
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