Andrew stepped in to Emily’s Sunnybrook bedroom to take photos for the magazine shoot. Joyful shouts of the girls playing in the living room echoed throughout the house as he worked to get the perfect shots to tell Sunnybrook’s story. Almost everything in 11 year old Emily’s bedroom looked just as you’d think it should.
“Why’s she got all these suitcases out?” Andrew asked me as he stepped up to take photos of her desk.
“Foster children typically aren’t quick to unpack and settle in. She probably thinks she’ll need to be able to pack up in a hurry at some point and doesn’t want to put them up in the closet.” We stood in silence.
As he began taking more photos, I thought for a while about this 11 year old girl that doesn’t trust the word “home.” She believes everything is so temporary- even the roof over her head and the people who call her “family.” How did she end up here?
This is the reality for many of Mississippi’s almost 5,000 foster children. After moving from place to place again and again, how can they trust that they’ve ended up somewhere they can truly call “home?”
They repeatedly pack their little lives up in trash bags and suitcases and make the journey to the next house. Earning their trust isn’t easy, and helping them to feel security in an ever-changing environment is near impossible- but someone has to do it.
Someone must get too attached. Someone must help them unpack their belongings and assure them that they are safe and sound. Someone must help them understand that even though leaving may be painful, there is too much good in digging deep roots to lose- even if it’s only for a moment. Foster care is messy and difficult to say the least, and change hurts, especially when it means a child you love has to leave. But someone must step in and serve as a bright spot in their story.
This could mean looking into becoming foster parents. It could mean supporting a foster family you already know. Maybe you have time to volunteer at a group home. Maybe you have resources that could serve foster children well.
What can you do today to help provide home to children who need it?