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Whose Kid is it?
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“Children reinvent your world for you.” –Susan Sarandon

When I first heard someone say “it takes a whole village to raise a child” I shrugged it off and thought it was a ridiculous cliché’.

Then I became a licensed foster parent, and changed my mind. I had already successfully raised two healthy children, and naively believed that raising someone else’s child couldn’t be very different. I was wrong.

The private agency brought me a little boy who looked absolutely cherubic . . . and he was, but only when sleeping.

Reality hit me early on when the little boy acted out his anxiety and lack of trust issues in various and unpredictable ways. Purposely burning himself; stuffing undergarments down and plugging up the toilet; stealing money out of my purse; stealing from schoolmates; lying; intentionally running into oncoming traffic; climbing onto the house roof in attempt to touch hot wires were just a few of his behaviors.

Lessons learned

The most important thing I learned was that foster parenting is nothing like parenting your own biological child. The second most important thing I learned is that I couldn’t parent him alone. I solicited the help of private agency staff, friends, family members and other foster parents; and found a structured after-school activity program for the child as well. That’s how I learned it really does take a village to raise a child. 

By the time he left my home to be adopted, he was not stealing or lying. He was enjoying school and getting good grades; he was making friends, he was learning what it meant to be healthy and live in a normal environment free of abuse. He learned what love was and how to give and receive love. More importantly he learned how to forgive and forgave his family for abusing and neglecting him. He turned from a confused, anxious little boy into a happy, well-adjusted trusting young man.

Are you ready for a rewarding challenge? Become a foster parent. Have the courage to let a child reinvent your life for the better.

“Children need love, especially when they do not deserve it.” --Harold S. Hulbert

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By Denise Taylor, pseudonym. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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