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home for the holidays.
there are songs about it. hallmark makes a fortune selling cards either affirming the practice or lamenting ones ability to get there. its something i look forward to with great anticipation. however, this year, while i was sitting in my dad’s recliner that he never actually sits in when i’m home, eating a dinner lovingly and deliciously prepared by my mother, while enjoying silly conversation with my 6.5 year old niece and nephew, i thought back to the youth we have had the chance to talk about over the last semester.
what does it feel like to experience the holidays without a home? something i always take for granted. something that seems to me to be as special a time in the year as any, that i have, for the first time stopped to think, that many do not enjoy. learning too early that santa only brings presents to some people (perhaps not in the foster home or group home, certainly not in prison or juvenile detention centers). or perhaps of being in a foster home, away from siblings, extended family and parents. wishing you had such a luxury to go “home to the holidays”. perhaps not even able to comprehend what that might look like.
and i enjoyed my time even more. but with a hint of guilt, or sadness. at the experiences, holidays being just one, that i have always known and take for granted which i am now keenly aware is not the case. and i wonder what it is like to not be home for the holidays. not have a home to go to, or even if you do, not be able to get there.
soon after the joy of christmas we welcome the new year. hallmark sells more cards filling us with the rhetoric that it is a time of new chances, new opportunities, where anything we dream can be true. yet, once again, that rhetoric is only true for a select few. those who perhaps didn’t have many struggles in the previous year, or even if they did, were surrounded by the warmth of home, support and family needed to overcome. but to add salt to a fresh wound, we celebrate new opportunities and new chances with people who have little to no control over their outcome. who rely on other adults to make their future better and brighter. and while the world celebrates opportunities and fresh starts, they are left with the same slate, the same past, the same obstacles as they had at 11:59.
happy new year.
full of promise and opportunities and new beginnings.
I recently came across the article about Davion, a 15-year-old orphan living in St. Petersburg, Florida. Having spent his life in the foster care system, Davion took a pastor’s message that God helped people that helped himself, and therefore took to a local church to make a plea that someone adopt him.
This story caused me to take pause to think about both Davion’s bravery, but also how discouraging it is that the children in our foster care system feel the need to take to a pulpit, a platform, a stage to market themselves as valuable humans worthy of a home and family, something so many take for granted. To stand in front of a group of strangers hoping that one of them might want you or know someone who might want you is utterly heartbreaking.
At the time of this post, Davion has not yet found a home, though it is reported that several people have inquired about him. This is discouraging to hear though as it would be a joyful ending that Davion had found a home but equally troubling at the precedent it would set. Would foster parents or foster homes take to “auctioning” off children, or exploiting them in some way to move them along? However it also raises the concern that perhaps the foster care system is too “out of sight out of mind” for most Americans, and Davion’s step to the front of the church is symbolic of how the entire foster care system should be a more central point of conversation and policy making in this country. However, in doing this a balance would have to be found that bring foster care to the spotlight without exploiting the children who are a part of it.
I hope Davion is matched with a family–someone to take him to football practice and provide him what he has waited so long to find. That would be my hope for every foster child. The question is, short of every child in the foster care system having to sell themselves on a stage, how do we take the burden and place the system on the stage instead?
- Florida Orphan Pleads for Family to ‘Love Me Until I Die’ (abcnews.go.com)
Look what we’re reading/watching this week:
- Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling — by Sabrina Jones and Marc Mauer: An update of Mauer’s popular text about the exponential growth of the prison industry and the criminal justice system.
- Le gamin au vélo (The kid with a bike): about a young boy whose father gives up his parental rights and who is taken into care by a local hairdresser; she becomes his family.
- The Arrival — by Shaun Tan: A stunning, wordless graphic novel about a man’s journey to a new a land, full of the emotion of being lost, found, mis-read, welcomed, and seeking and finding home.