Ever since I read Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl in fifth grade, stories of the Holocaust have mesmerized me. In Germany and German-occupied countries, everyday people were faced with a choice. Would they help their Jewish neighbors, or would they avert their eyes as the police led them away?
In my mind, the true heroes of the world weren’t anything like Superman or Wonder Woman, characters I had previously admired (and had the Underoos to show for it). The real heroes were normal, everyday people who risked everything to help someone. I felt outrage towards those who did nothing – or even worse, betrayed their neighbors in some way. Surely, I thought, if given a chance to face injustice or outright evil in the world, I would be a hero.
But then life happened… or maybe just continued happening. And I found myself caught up in the everyday stupidity of the world, like trying to figure out why my iPhone storage was always full no matter how many pictures I deleted and why my children resisted eating vegetables and sleeping at night. Every now and then, I would hear a news report about famine, war, and poverty, but it was easy go back to my own cares. Everything happened out there – so far away from my comfortable reality.
I yearned to do something meaningful, but I had no clue what.
Then, about two years ago, a friend met me for dinner and shared with me the sad condition of the foster care system in South Carolina. Children right here in the state – my neighbors – were being sent to overcrowded group homes or staying on the floor of the DSS office because there simply weren’t enough foster homes. As she told me stories of children in horrible situations, I imagined my own children in these circumstances.
I had to do something.
I wish I could tell you that I went home and filled out an application to become a foster parent that evening. But I didn’t. In fact, I am still not a foster parent. What I did was commit to overseeing the wrap-around services for foster families in my church. At the time, we only had one active foster family. So, I wasn’t making a huge sacrifice. I mostly waited around for something to do to help.
While I waited, I read. My friend was a former social worker, and she was (and still is) a huge advocate for foster kids. (Today, she is a foster parent.) She loaned me stacks of books to read about foster kids and the foster system.
I read. And read. And read.
One thing I learned was that there wasn’t just one way to help foster children. Jason Johnson wrote in a blog post, “While we are all not called to do the same thing, we are all certainly called to do something.”
Maybe you are coming to this website because you, like me, would like to do something about the injustice of children not having families to care for them. If so, I invite you on a journey of learning. I will present one book a month about some aspect of the foster system. Some books will be stories, and a few will be informational. I hope through this journey, you will find your place in the call to be an everyday hero. I am still working on finding a place for myself – let’s discover together.