By: Shay Stinson
Edited by: Intisar Seraaj
It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, celebrating the beloved civil rights activist, social justice leader, and minister, so today we stop to consider what acts of service have we done and how we can be more involved in the community. One act of service we’d like to highlight is that of foster care. Currently, there are an estimated 400,000 children in foster care. Many of those children will age forward into adulthood through the foster care system. Many will return home and, like 948 children that have come through Seraaj Family Homes, Inc., successfully be reunified with their biological families.
But even before reunification, all these children will encounter a foster parent. For some who might have multiple foster homes before finding a more permanent home, they will meet several foster parents. These parents are everyday citizens like us, who have answered the ultimate calling of stepping up to the plate to become a partner in parenting with a biological family in need.
There are many reasons a person may choose to become a foster parent. Oftentimes, there is an opportunity to share more love and time after some parents have raised their own biological children and feel they have more to give through fostering.
The choice to be a foster parent may come after a life–changing event that ushers one into thinking of a greater purpose and ways to give back and leave a legacy. Fostering may be a choice some people make based on filling emotional voids, busying their time, and/or a want to share their resources through parenting.
No matter the reason, a couple or single parent, no matter what age, may choose to be a foster parent. One thing is for certain: To do so is an act of bravery and an ultimate act of service, as well as sacrifice. Fostering means that you have decided to volunteer to be a mentor, a guide, a caretaker, and an overseer of children who may not be welcomed to the idea of you stepping into their parent’s shoes. But you are willing to be patient with them because you know that there is a job to be done.
When we consider the ultimate choice Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made to foster change in his community and the world around him, we see that sometimes, one just knows when there is a job to be done and we cannot wait for others to do it. During this year’s reflection of Dr. King’s service, we remind our foster parents of how appreciative we are that they choose to serve children in need and step up to the plate and help heal families across the world.