I Wanted To Help Foster Children Have Better Lives. Imagine How I Felt When I Was Turned Away For Being The 'Wrong' Religion.
Several years ago, I found out about an amazing opportunity near my home in Simpsonville, S.C., to mentor and volunteer with children in foster care through Miracle Hill Ministries, one of the largest, most well-known foster care agencies in South Carolina.
This was a unique and exciting opportunity for my family because even our three children would be able to volunteer and interact with the kids in foster care. We knew of no other program like it in our area. My whole family would be able to make a real difference in the lives of the children we see in billboards and donation solicitations.
I grew up in a lower-middle-class family. My mother was a stay-at-home mom, and my father was a heavy equipment mechanic. They were also foster parents. In my early years, I had dozens and dozens of brothers and sisters. I remember the knocks at the door--sometimes in the middle of the night--that typically brought us a new sibling. I remember my parents up until the wee hours of the morning, soothing nightmares, calming confused and weeping children.
My father was placed into foster care in the 1960s and 70s--a time that was not kind to children in the system. His was a brutal entry into the world. But he also experienced some bright spots along the way, which grew him into a man who served his country, who worked his butt off to provide for his own kids and who wanted to give children in foster care something better than what he'd received from that system.
I grew up knowing that one day I wanted to do the same. I had seen up close and personal the beauty and the flaws within the foster care system. I knew I'd want to try to create those bright spots for other children.
My husband and I have three children, two of whom have special needs. While I personally consider our home to have a beautiful kind of chaos, it could be a lot for another child to deal with, especially one from a potentially traumatic background. But I also knew that it meant we were in a unique position to be able to support children with similar needs. I was so excited at the thought of eventually fostering children!
I emailed for a couple weeks with a Miracle Hill coordinator who asked a lot of questions. She told me, "You sound perfect." The next step was to sign some paperwork and meet with a representative face-to-face.
They just had one more question...