Nameless & faceless

“Nobody wants me. Look at me, Nobody wants a kid like me. I’ll stay here one more year, and start my life…I guess.”

As those words fell off the lips of a 17 year old I had known for a while, the direction of my life and our family forever changed. He had spent the entirety of his teen years in foster care, and as hopeless as they were, he was painfully right. Time had proven what we don’t like to admit- we’re indifferent to thousands of faceless, nameless children in South Carolina.

I cried that day. I cried that night. I cried in the coming weeks. My wife and I began to grapple with the following question, “Now that we know, what should we do?”  Ultimately, we chose to do what we can to prevent other children from feeling unwanted.

We chose to do what we can to prevent other children from feeling unwanted.

In the process we have learned so much. Our safe, middle class bubble that prioritized comfort and success has been shattered (in a good way).  We’ve entered into worlds that we unfortunately didn’t know existed.We’re currently fostering a newborn. Holding a baby in your arms inevitably leads to thoughts of their future. What will he look like? How tall will she be? What will his personality be like? Will she go to college?

But, when you hold a baby born into generational poverty, those thoughts get interrupted. You begin to realize the opportunity disparity that exists. Your thoughts shift to: Will they follow their father to jail? Will addiction be a part of their life? Their life and the hurdles before them are unfairly higher than those before the children in my world.

Their life and the hurdles before them are unfairly higher than those before the children in my world.

So, what are we left to do? Certainly not feel defeated or parent them as a victim. We leverage the resources we have to provide the best possible start, so they have longer legs to step over the hurdles. We also help mom begin to help clear the hurdles.

And what can you do? For starters, please don’t buy into these erroneous thought patterns:

1) Everyone has the same opportunities.

We buy into this notion as Americans. In reality, my childhood in no way mirrors the lives of the children who we have cared for. In fact, they couldn’t be more different. I was held, read to, encouraged and nurtured. Many of these kids are isolated, placed in front of a TV, and encounter violence with regularity. Where I felt safe to grow, they are scared and focused on survival.

2) “They” are someone else’s responsibility. “They” are hopeless.

I can’t square this mentality with the Gospel. I’m thankful that my Father in heaven didn’t find me hopeless or pass along responsibility to another person. To pass on these children and their parents as hopeless, requires a wholesale dismissal of the redemptive power of Christ.

3) My own family is all that I’m responsible for.

There’s enough here for an entire blog series. For the sake of brevity, I encourage you to consider what family means. How does your view of family fit with the biblical description of your spiritual family?

4). Comfort is a worthy priority. 

When our children are born, we at some point envision them making a difference in the world. Then, we get in the way. We can’t expect them to serve others and show compassion, if our lives revolve around the pursuit of comfort. One of the greatest threats to the church today and our credibility in the world, is our pursuit of the American Dream. By stepping into the lives of those around us in our communities, schools, neighborhoods, we can model sacrifice and service.

And finally, you can take action; there are organizations around you that fight every day to remove obstacles.  Look them up below, find the place that fits your family, and go be a part of the solution.

-Dan Bracken, foster parent

Organizations that are a part of the solution: