Life on display 

As I was contemplating what I would write in my blog I kept going back to a trip I took recently to our Community Based Services Pink Hill Office.  To get there, I drove through Chinquapin and Beulaville, a couple of small towns in rural North Carolina. Along the way, I passed home after home with all their belongings on the side of the road.  

You see, I traveled that road two weeks after Hurricane Florence roared through southeastern NC.  On the side of the road I saw mattresses, beds, refrigerators, washer and dryer, a stove, kitchen table and chairs, and, of course, clothes.  It was one of the saddest sights I have seen in a long time. 

The image has stayed with me.  It brought to mind what foster children go through when they move. They have to leave everything in their home.  Much like the victims of flooding, most of the time foster children do not get to prepare for the move so they just have the clothes on their back.  Because they are in foster care, they often feel that their lives are on display for everyone to see. People expect that the foster children will be okay in getting rid of the things in their lives and getting new things.  I am sure that the victims of Hurricane Florence would much rather have their own things instead of getting “new” things.  They probably also believe that their lives are on display for people to see as they drive by. 

These flooded homes had all of their windows opened and you were able to see the cleaning supplies on the front porches.  Just like families who have their children removed, they have to “air” their lives out and have to clean up some of the things in their lives.  When a child is removed from their home, the parents often have to get rid of the people in their lives that are toxic - like mold in a house that has been flooded.  They have to get help in cleaning up their lives by going to rehab or therapy.  A lot of times they need to get help from a professional to help them overcome the issues they have like Servpro does with victims of flooding.

The flooding and destruction that Hurricane Florence released on our area was traumatic and life altering.  The people who have suffered deserve our thoughts, prayers, and donations, but keep in mind that thousands of children go through traumatic and life-altering events every day by being removed from their homes and all they know.  They leave all they know on the side of the road while their families open their windows and get their lives clean.  The expectation we have of these children is they need to get on with their lives.  They are in a better place and are safe.  How could they want to go back to the destruction that was their lives?  We expect them to pick up and go to school, make new friends, and be grateful that they are in a new home.  These are children and they do not always have the coping ability to move on.  They want their old life back.  It is their “normal”. 

It is amazing what humans can handle and still get up and make it through their day. 

When you think of foster children and the trauma that they have gone through - leaving everything behind (their families, pets, siblings, clothes, etc.) - and see them get up every day and go to school and function in a new home with a new family, you see true resiliency.  These children are amazing.  Just with the small amount of damage I had due to the storm, I was overwhelmed.  It makes me appreciate the foster children I work with every day. 

If you would like to help a child handle the trauma in their life, please consider becoming a foster parent.  I promise you will learn so much from them and you will see resiliency. 

Donna Yalch is the Vice President for Community Based Services at Boys and Girls Homes of NC.

Learn more about Foster Care at B&GH.

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