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All Children Deserve to Grow Up Knowing There is a Place Called Home

A Mother's Day guest post by Janet St. Clair


May 06, 2016

The phone calls and text messages start early on Mother’s Day.  Usually it’s Katie first.  She’s on Kansas time.  “Happy Mother’s Day!  I love you.”  And then a few emoji’s throw in for decoration.  We talk or text for a few minutes before she’s called away for her own celebration with her four red-headed beauties I’m privileged to call grandchildren.  Of course, there’s always the conversation when I visit.  “You’re our extra grandma.”  As a foster grandmother, you respect and support all the relationships in your children’s life.  Just as you tried to do when they lived with you.

As the day goes by, calls and texts come.  My baby girl graduated from college two years ago and started her first job in the Silicon Valley so she won’t be home this year but she’s always quick to call and always has a thoughtful card or gift, albeit perhaps a day or two late.  She’s my birth daughter and I confess her distractibility may have come naturally.

Lilia, my lovely Latina foster daughter will send me a picture of her baby girl, Bella who is now almost in Kindergarten.  Lilia was an amazing young woman, persevering through challenges to graduate and receive scholarships to college.  She graduates this year with a degree in social work and a goal to make the system better for families like hers.  Her mother and I are friends and the recognition of the role poverty plays in the child welfare system is never far from my mind.

All together I have 11 children.  We’re a large blended family.  My husband had four birth children and one adopted.  I had three birth and six foster kids, three are a permanent part of our life.  The definition of permanency is a matter of debate in the child welfare system, but I’ll just say this: If they show up in your heart, your Christmas list, your checkbook and on your front step in crisis or transition, that’s permanency. 

All children deserve forever families.  All children deserve to grow up and know there is a place called home.  The child welfare system makes an indifferent parent but we can make a difference in their lives.  New innovations to strengthen families to stay together and thrive, better support for foster/adopt families and enhancing and investing in the relatives who step up to nurture and raise their grandchildren, cousins, nieces or nephews…These are important ways to make sure every kid has someone to call on Mother’s Day and say, “Thank you, I love you.”  And know they are loved in return.

Janet St. Clair is a member of Seattle Foundation’s spring GiveTogether Committee, focused on providing grants to exemplary organizations working in the field of child welfare. If you would like to contribute to the funding pool and support these grants, you can click here to donate online or contact your philanthropic advisor to give via your Seattle Foundation fund.

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