By Kelly, foster mom
It’s Friday night after what felt like the longest week ever, while others may be snuggled up on their couch catching up on DVR or enjoying happy hour with friends, I commemorated the end of this lengthy week by spending hours on my computer pouring over pictures I took this year looking for a single photo of a young girl I knew for only a few hours.
You see, I met this sweet girl doing respite care for another foster mama one day earlier this year.
It truly didn’t seem like a day that would be that memorable at the time but like most days I snapped a few photos of my kids and her playing and went on about my busy life.
She had a hard life and I remember thinking the photo didn’t show any of that. She seemed so happy, I wanted to celebrate it, but I didn’t.
We have a wall of photos in our home that I hang the portrait of any foster child that spends the night in our home for several reasons.
So that on hard days I can be reminded of why we do this.
So what it’s all about is never far from my mind.
As a prompt to pray for them long after they leave my home.
Only, I didn’t print her photo and hang it on the wall that day because she was with us such a short time.
I am really struggling with that now.
You see, earlier this week I learned that she experienced some horrific trauma that no child or adult should ever endure.
Now, I can’t get her out of my head.
Why didn’t I print that picture?
Why didn’t I give her face a place on my wall?
Why didn’t I make her face a focal point in my home?
Most children we come in contact with are cherished in their families.
Not all children get that life.
Many of their photos never hang on anyone’s walls.
No one celebrates them, or cherishes their moments.
Whereas, photos of my children with carefree smiles and innocent eyes adorn every wall in my home.
That space in my home is representative of the space they occupy in my heart.
Those photos signify, ‘you are adored, you are loved, you are treasured.’
She deserved that same honor and I didn’t give it to her.
I regret that.
Truly she deserves much more than that, she deserves the life behind that frozen moment in time.
All children do.
Yet it’s one many never get.
Frankly, because we choose not to give it to them.
We look inward, we focus on our four walls and those already in them.
We print the pictures that serve us well and simply store the rest.
Much like the way we handle our photos, we handle these children.
We hear about them, we think about them briefly, then we file the statistics away in our minds telling ourselves someone else will help them.
I finally found her picture tonight.
I printed it.
I framed it.
I hung it like the proud mama she deserves.
I will look at it daily and use it as a reminder of the voiceless, the faceless, the forgotten.
I pray it stretches our family as far as we can go.
I pray it will encourages us to continue to look to those beyond these four walls.
The children in our communities deserve that.
They deserve that and so much more.
The only way they are going to get it is if we give it to them.
There is no other answer.