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My View: Foster parents discover joys large and small

By Judith Whitehead

After many unsuccessful attempts at becoming a biological parent, my very special friend decided to become a certified foster parent in hopes of adopting a young child some day.

There are thousands of children in the foster system just begging to be connected with a parent that can give them the love and attention they deserve. Many children are forced into the foster system, through no fault of their own, and have parents that are unable to provide a safe and loving environment for them.

Here are some staggering facts. There are more than 23,000 kids that age out of the U.S. foster system every year. After age 18 these children are set “free” into the world and many are not equipped to fend for themselves.

More than 25 percent of them will be involved in a life of crime, less than 3% will go to college, over 20% will become homeless and less than 60% will graduate from high school.

I am not a foster parent but I have heard from my dear friend stories about the many children that have inhabited her home. So many have baggage that is carried along with them from home to home. Through no fault of their own, as they are shuffled from place to place until they find a match with a hopefully loving home.

My friend received an infant five years ago that needed shelter, love and nurturing that ultimately was an answer to her and her husband’s prayers and a gift from above.

Judith Whitehead

The resembled my friend so much so that most people assumed that she is her biological daughter. A few years ago they were able to legally adopt her into their loving family and she has been a blessing ever since. She is a wonderful child, full of life and happiness that was one of the lucky ones to survive out of the foster system.

There are so many children waiting to find a home to call their own and so many people wanting to become a parent some day. What a great way to fulfill so many people’s wishes.

As I have seen, becoming a foster parent is not for the faint of heart. Some children have experienced life’s hardships way to soon in their young lives, which may cause them to be somewhat more difficult to handle and hardened to life. It takes a special person to become a foster but what a “mitzvah” or good deed those parents have fulfilled.

Many people adopt children out of our country at a high cost and with a lot of effort. Why not consider saving a life and finding a wonderful child right in our own backyard. It can be a blessing for everyone involved.

These kids, especially the older ones, are in desperate need of finding a good home. Statistics state that a staggering 60% of sex-trafficked youth were at one time in foster care. My heart goes out to these kids that are shuffled from house to facility for many years of their young lives.

My friend and her husband are more than grateful that they found a wonderful match for their family and know how lucky they all are to have found each other.

I only wish that couples would consider this option to grow their family if they are unable to conceive; what a great alternative to have.

Judith Whitehead, of East Amherst, admires her friends who are foster parents.

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