Here are my notes from a recent phone call with a mentor:
“Things are ok right now. Mentee’s mom passed away about 3 weeks ago. She is handling it well. She doesn’t express a lot of feelings about things. Trying to stay on our routine. She is starting to make really responsible decisions and sometimes acts like a real teenager. She just doesn’t have any parents in her life anymore. Doesn’t have anyone to prove herself to.”
She is 14 years old, lives in a group home, and her mom recently died. I can’t imagine. Life of a foster kid…just a small glimpse though.
I interviewed these 2 sisters a couple days ago who live with their foster mom, mom’s 2 daughters, and their brother. These 2 girls had me chuckling a little because of their personalities, and definitely NOT because of their circumstances.
To help paint the story better, 5 minutes after starting the interview with 1 of the sisters, the other sister joined us at the table and sat right next to her sister until they were both finished. Keep that in mind as you read the rest…
Sister #1 is 15 years old and likes volleyball, coloring, drawing, sleeping, facebook, watching movies, reading, eating, hanging out with her friends, In & Out, and tamales. When she gets older she wants to be a singer, doctor, and/or dancer. She does NOT have any visits with her parents. She has 5 brothers and 2 sisters. Her dislikes are football, baseball, softball, hockey, tennis, and fake people. Her goals for the next year are to open up, learn how to control her attitude, to make friends at school, and to have good grades. She admits that she needs help with math. When I asked her what things stress her out, she said “A lot, not being able to see my parents, and not knowing how my brothers and sister are doing.”
Sister #2 is 12 years old and likes football, reading, coloring, going on her phone, playing outside, drawing, Jack in the Box, and Asian food. When she gets older she wants to be a football player. Her dislikes are volleyball and shopping. Again, no visits with parents and 5 brothers and 2 sisters. Her favorite thing about herself is that she likes sports. Her goals for the next year are to trust people (can read a lot into that), get along with her sister, to get straight A’s, and to trust her teachers.
Keep in mind, they were sitting next to each other when Sister #2 said her goal is to get along with her sister, the only one she lives with. There was no noticeable tension either when she said it. I was kind of thrown off because they seemed ok with each other.The other thing that was funny is they didn’t like the sport the other liked and vice versa.
So, here are these 2 girls living with a foster mom, foster mom’s 2 daughters, and their brother and they need a mentor. No visits with their parents and removed from the rest of their siblings.
Let me leave you with one last thought…kids who age out of foster care without ever being brought into a family environment style home…what do you think happens to them when they turn 18 and no longer want to be “under the state’s care”? If they lived their whole childhood hurt, broken, and never given a loving family (or returned to their own), where do they go when they become an adult and are now on their own, assuming they decide to not sign a voluntary agreement to stay in care as a young adult?
For many, its the streets, trafficking, or jail. We actually have an opportunity to make a major impact in not just one person’s life, but their future family’s. #FoodForThought
Last night my wife and I went to the group home to paint and play games. Originally the plan was to pick up my mentee tonight and take him to Hobby Lobby to pick out some wood items to paint as a craft. Due to some incidents at the home this week, it was suggested that I do an “in house” visit instead. So I decided to combine our painting activity with game night and do both. I stop by Hobby Lobby and pick up about 5 or so wood items to paint and an acrylic paint set/brushes. Wondering how well the painting craft would be received by all the ages of the kids in the home, we were quickly assured it was going to be a hit. Everyone who wanted to participate and paint was able to get a wood item. We all set around the table and let them enjoy painting their item. One had a paper mache dinosaur, one had a cross on a stand, one a treasure chest, one a dolphin, and more. After they had all finished, we switched to play some games starting with uno and then branched off to some playing dominoes while the rest continued playing uno.
After the painting had finished and uno had started, the youngest youth in the home, the 5 year old I interviewed a couple days ago and shared about, showed up from a visit. He quickly realized he missed out on the painting craft, but wanted to jump right in to playing uno.
At the end of the night, right as we opened the door to leave, the 5 year old ran out the front door ahead of us, and my wife instinctively reached out her hand and snagged him. My wife asked him where he is going and he said he wanted to go home with my wife and I.
Sad interviews with foster kids from yesterday:
#1 I was interviewing a little 5 year old in the group home who gets picked on quite a bit because he is the little guy in the house…although sometimes it appears to be deserved because he demands attention from the older ones in what would be considered an annoying way. This little guy likes football, soccer, Disneyland (even though he didn’t get to go with the home a few weeks ago when they went), playing games, nintendo DS, playing on a tablet, and McDonalds. When he gets older he said he wants to be a policeman. He said that his favorite thing about himself is “That I want to be by myself.” When I asked him what his favorite memory was, he said “Playing games with Jeff & Syreeta” (2 Wednesdays ago my wife and I went over to the home and played games with the kids 😅). If I recall, he mentioned my wife by her name…not bad for a 5 year old when your wife hasn’t been to the home that many times. When I asked him what would he do if he had a million dollars, he said “buy chocolate milk.” He said his goals for the next year are to be nice to people, be good, and behave.” As soon as I finished the interview he asked me, “Can I have a mentor now?” He was the only boy in the group home for a period of time who didn’t have a mentor. Now we are on the hunt for someone to take on this bundle of energy and joy!
#2 I was interviewing the most calm and respectful 16 year old in care that I think I have ever met. He likes baseball, boxing, UFC, running, exercising, playing games, EATING, drawing, getting baseball autographs, Taco Bell, Salsitas, and eating cabeza. He does not have visits with his father yet and his mom is out of the country. When he gets older he wants to be in criminal investigation. What he likes best about himself is that “I’m a facts person” and “I’m helpful, respect everything and everyone.” When I asked him what his favorite memory is, he said he doesn’t know. I rephrased and said “the best day of your life” and he still didn’t have an answer. He has made some bad choices and got in to trouble, and I think a lot of it has to do with peer pressure. He said his friends at school ask him to go hang out and go to the mall, but he tells them he can’t because he lives “in a group home.” He just tells people straight up that. I can’t imagine. He was saying how he can’t be on a baseball team also because he is in a group home. Breaks my heart in ways I can’t imagine.