By Kelly, Florida foster mom
It’s 3 a.m., I am laying on the floor trying to sleep in the safest room in my house and wait out this awful hurricane.
As I lie here reflecting on the days that have led up to now, waiting for this horrific nightmare of a storm to end, I was just absolutely hit by the sobering thought that this week is just a sampling of the type of trauma children coming into foster care must experience regularly.
Hurricane Irma has rocked us all to our core because it threatened our security, safety and stability. Most of us have barely experienced that feeling for a few days at this point, and think of the profound affect it has had on you already.
Now imagine something for me if you will:
That feeling you had the week before Hurricane Irma, when your stability was threatened as some of you thought you may be leaving your house for the last time, imagine doing that as a child. Without your loved ones along side you. Often not returning at all or for a very long time becoming your actual reality.
That feeling you had, when you packed that to-go bag in case you had to evacuate, when you had to decide what was most important to you in the world, imagine doing that as a child without the emotional reasoning, life experience and few days notice we had. As an emotional wreck with a police officer standing over you ready to take you away from all you’ve ever known. Imagine how that would threaten your security.
When your anxiety and the what-ifs got the best of you and you pictured your loved ones battered by this storm, remember how that ripped your heart out and made you sick to your stomach?
Imagine that as a child, only the anxiety storm wreaking havoc on your life is your parent’s mental illness/abuse/neglect/addiction and it isn’t just a bad thought in your mind it has become your way of life and you are beat down by it in real time not just your mind.
Then you need to go to school and try to focus, the way you may have had to go to work rattled by the week before Irma made landfall.
What a challenge that would be.
Now let the labels people would call you, the things others would think about you, how it would all define your sense of self worth sink in.
Now imagine trying to keep up with your peers and live a productive life.
It’s no wonder many kids that are now in foster care will grow up to be homeless adults. And yet during a storm we have the nerve to worry about our things and our homes, and not them.
When your safety was threatened as you lied in bed listening to those terrifying sounds just waiting for them to end, longing for it to be over, imagine that as a child only those terrifying sounds aren’t wind gusts, they are screams echoing throughout your home from the domestic violence you witness regularly, and — unlike a hurricane — it won’t be a once in a lifetime experience, it will become your norm.
Experiencing Hurricane Irma, a once Category 5 hurricane headed for Florida’s coastline, has been traumatic and life changing. Please, don’t become complacent and forget the fear it evoked. Instead, use it to become more compassionate to those children right here in our community that live in this heightened state of trauma we’ve been in today, every day, all day.
If during this storm a child showed up on your front door step scared and alone, would you shelter them or would you justify leaving them out there with the same reasoning we tell ourselves we can’t get involved in foster care? Of course you wouldn’t. You’d scoop them up, take them in, and protect and love them fiercely until they could get back home safely.
If we aren’t reaching out to help the children in our community that desperately need us we are asking these children to weather this storm all alone. It’s time to rise up, come together, scoop these children up and be the village in foster care the same way we will come together as a community and rebuild this great state.
Guest blogger Kelly has been a foster parent in Florida for two years.
According to Kelly, she loves God, fostering, spending time with family and friends, traveling, FSU football, and the beach.
Kelly is the writer behind the Real Mama No Drama blog.