OMG! She is adorable!
Is she yours? Where did you get her? Was she abused?
Are you a foster parent?
CCR Wisconsin Foster Care parents have many examples of the questions and comments they get about their foster kids. Most are pretty funny while some border on rude. If you happen to be a foster parent, you are most likely chuckling because you know all too well. Of course, friends, family, and complete strangers at Pick ‘n Save don’t mean to offend us or our kiddos, they are just curious and don’t realize what they are saying is often inappropriate. It may not be their fault. The stories that make the evening news or front page of Yahoo are often the only basis for their limited knowledge about children (and dogs) in foster care and us as foster parents. Unfortunately, media networks and social platforms have their hands tied behind their backs.
The truth about foster children remains silent.
The majority of people will never know what foster care looks like from the inside. The beautiful stories of hope and healing, love, and acceptance are plentiful. The sacrifices made by thousands of foster parents is amazing! Unfortunately good, positive stories rarely make for good news reporting. The heartbreaking nightly news opener about adults that were supposed to protect their own children and instead housed them like animals in squaller conditions, now that is newsworthy! The California couple accused of abusing and shackling their 13 children remains in the news 6 months after the story broke earlier this year. The media coverage of the children at the border has created outrage, anger, and blame nationwide. We are getting calls from people who want to take in a child from the border. All the while, hundreds of children in Wisconsin, in our own communities and neighborhoods are being removed from their homes and nobody knows it or sees them and too many of these kids have no safe place to go.
The need for new foster homes continues to grow in Wisconsin and beyond. Our nations foster care system is in crisis. Drug abuse, unemployment, poor education, lack of family unit and many other factors can mean foster care for thousands of children. Unfortunately, you will never see the children or hear their stories. The media won’t, the media can’t. Here is proof through an AdLib game. Play along.
The (adjective) little Yorkie in the photo above is (noun). She is (number) years old and loves to (adjective) under furniture. She is (adverb) of many things, like grass, thunder, and doors. She recently learned how to (verb) stairs and (verb) off the couch. She prefers to (verb) off the floor and has difficulty walking on a (noun). She has many (adverb) accidents around the house. Before I (adverb) her, she spent all (number) years of her life in a (place). Her only purpose was to (verb). She lived in a (adjective) (noun) in (adjective) conditions. She is unrecognizable in her before (noun). Now she is my (noun), making progress in her new (noun) every (noun). (adorable, Lyla, six. hide, afraid, climb, jump, eat, leash, messy, rescued, 6, puppy mill, breed, tiny, cage, horrible, photo, princess, home, day)
The (noun) in the photo below must remain (adjective). His (noun) must remain unidentifiable. His (noun) cannot be told. (boy, anonymous, face, story)
Don’t you just want to cuddle with Lyla? Are you imagining her in that tiny cage, in the dark? Delivering dozens of puppies over 6 years time so her owner can profit. The AdLib exercise probably struck a nerve and stirred emotion. What about the boy? Feeling the same? Can we feel anything at all for him?
The cameraman followed specific instructions!
This photo was taken at a park in Madison, WI on a hot morning in June. The boy’s foster mom was being interviewed by WKOW television about her experience as a foster parent. The cameraman was NOT allowed to capture any portion of the boy’s face on film or in a photograph that might identify him. The boy in the red shirt is one of about 7,500 foster kids in Wisconsin that have a right to privacy. If you visit our website you may or may not pay much attention to the photos because they are largely generic. All child welfare agencies use the same looking, stock photos on the internet as a measure to protect the foster kids. Without adorable faces, before and after photos and background stories, it is a challenge to draw interest and followers.
Over 35,000 people follow the Facebook page of a local Wisconsin animal shelter yet not one child welfare/foster care agency in the state of Wisconsin has more than 2,000 followers. It’s not for lack of trying.
Creating emotion and empathy brings an action.
Let’s admit, it is difficult to watch the ASPCA videos while listening to Sarah McCoughlin sing Angel, or look at photos of a suffering seal with plastic embedded in the neck. However, those commercials and ads are successful in bringing awareness and creating change! The faces, photos, and videos bring in millions of dollars in donations and thousands of volunteer hours that support organizations and their wonderful efforts. Why? Creating emotion and empathy in the human spirit results in action and results. The photos coming out of Texas the past few weeks have not shown any faces of the children (again, right to privacy) but have shown the overall settings and conditions which play on viewers emotions. We are wired to take action or make a decision based on emotion. Advertisers and news organizations play on our “feelings” all the time. It’s a double-edged sword in the world of foster care really. We want to tell the stories, show the photos and play to your heartstrings but WE CAN’T. And it is good that we can’t! We have a duty to protect the children and their privacy.
Can you imagine a child suffering like Lyla? One woman can.
How do we feel for a child we cannot see or hear? We can close our eyes and try to imagine. It’s the only way to get around the missing piece in foster parent recruitment. We cannot show you or tell you, you have to imagine it. The boy in red was never highlighted on the 10 o’clock news. His photo wasn’t on Facebook or Instagram. But there was a woman who imagined. She imagined helping a child and since then she has helped dozens. Only because she imagined it. Imagine the possibilities for you and your family. Your life will change, alongside a child.
Explore our website, Call us and have an honest, casual conversation. We will spend time talking with you. Ask for Jane, she will be happy to share a Lyla story along with stories of the two dozen kids she fostered.
Please call us 800-799-0450
We are here to help, train and support you through the journey of becoming a foster parent.