Foster Care Awareness Month: A Season for Hope

Last Tuesday, I gazed out my window at the morning haze. I sat wondering if I was misled about that day’s forecast. The night before, I heard from the other room that the weather was going to be “favorable” for a round of golf after work. So, I prepared accordingly. And you know what? It rained. Hard. This spring season of storms struck again. My hopes were dashed. My plans were ruined. I was annoyed.

Oh, how God can humble us sometimes.

That same day, the arrival of a new foster child at the home of one of our Thornwell foster families made me pause. They showed up, as so many do, with a garbage bag filled with just a few personal belongings. A new, foreign home replaced their familiar setting. Hopes were dashed. Plans were ruined. For them, it was new season of uncertainty.

I forgot about my golf game and, instead, reflected on the seasonal mindset of children in foster care who are without the stability of a loving home.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 reminds us that for everything there is a season. In this season, there is a need for ALL kids to experience a loving and nurturing environment. As Foster Care Awareness Month begins, this season has allowed me to reflect on God’s purpose for my life.

I was a 20-year-old student at North Greenville University when I realized that I wanted to work in and serve alongside my community. My coach at the time started a mentor program called “Big Mountie, Little Mountie.” We were each assigned a child at the local elementary school. At that time, I thought I wanted to become a Kindergarten teacher. You might imagine that being 6’6 and 305 pounds had its challenges when trying to avoid stepping on (or over) 5-year-olds for the rest of my days. I also knew that unlike some of my peers, I could not call home to request my weekly allowance. I needed to provide for myself in other ways.

And then an important call came.

A referral source, someone whom I call my best friend to this day, informed me about an opportunity to work at a local group home. This was the break that I never knew I needed. This allowed me to make money while talking to kids. It also helped to ease the burden on my mom. At this group home, I realized I was called to do much more than just talk to kids. I was there to counsel and mentor these at-risk youth. I developed a love for human services and a passion for advocating for the voiceless.

That passion is my driving force to this day.

I think about that child showing up to their foster home with a garbage bag and I know we can do better. A great friend – David White – challenged me to think outside the box. Instead of that garbage bag, we’re now finding ways to give children luggage of their own. We are also connecting children with something that aligns with their culture, such as a barbershop or stylist. Just that makes a world of a difference; more than one would think.

Still, we know that it is not always that simple, no matter how much we wish it was. As I write down my thoughts, I feel guilty for complaining about things such as the weather. I am brought to think about the many displaced kids that are without so much in this season of their lives.

Friends, I encourage you to take time today to reflect upon this season. What can you do to meet the needs of children in foster care?

Thornwell believes in a world where everyone belongs to a loving family. Whether it be through foster care, residential care, or the other variety of services we offer, Thornwell aims to help children and families in need by providing hope and healing and letting our motivation and faith in God to be our driving force. 

Together, may this next season one that blooms new life and new hope for children in foster care.

By Marques Petty, Director of Foster Care

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