This year, I joined our church’s expanding Foster Care support ministry. They started our big kick-off meeting with a video depicting the life of a child who enters the foster care system and her journey. Some of you may have seen it as it floated around social media in the past years, but for those of you who haven’t, it is called “Removed.”
I can’t even imagine.
Shortly after the film, a beautiful, tall, blonde woman in her twenties walked up the microphone. She introduced herself as Shannon and began telling her story of entering the Foster Care system at the age of 9. She remembers being placed in more foster homes than she can count by the time she was 12, saying she stopped counting at around 40. She tells of moving from home to home with what little belongings she had in a black plastic bag (just like in the video). She recalls being embarrassed at the start of school each year for never having the supplies from the teachers’ lists and admits to layering everything in her closet to stay warm in the winter.
When Shannon was 12, she was placed in with a family who didn’t give up on her. This family worked through all of her rebellion, self-protective behaviors, and tumultuous times rather than recommending another home placement to her caseworker. Although she was never legally adoptable (parental rights were never officially terminated by the State), she lived with this family through the age of 18. They helped to put her through college and are the family – and parents – she considers her own to this day. She is now married with two children and has just become licensed as a foster parent herself. Shannon’s story is one of redemption, healing, and love, but for far too many children, this is not their experience.