Stop the excuses, kids need you
Do you recall your reaction when first hearing news of the 13 Turpin children who were starved, abused and tortured by their parents in California? Were you filled with disdain towards the abhorrent, evil and certainly mentally ill parents? Did you wonder how you could help the children?
Sadly, the damage done to those 13 souls will take years of professional care to even begin a transition to normalcy. There is nothing we can do but pray for them in their recovery. We are left wondering how neighbors and California authorities could have allowed this rampant injustice to happen.
I'm here to tell you the unsettling truth that horrific abuse and neglect occurs here in southeastern Connecticut, too.
As a parent in a licensed foster home, I cannot talk about the backgrounds of any of the children we have cared for, but I will share generalizations.
We have cared for children who came to us as pale-skinned, undernourished, dirty, and "home schooled" as the Turpin children.
We have had children in our home who lost a parent to overdose and babies who required medication to be administered because they were born addicted to heroin or other opiates. We have provided care to children unable to eat solid food because an addicted parent found it easier to feed a toddler jars of baby food.
We have cared for children, as old as 11, who did not have their first dental appointment until we took them.
Have each and every one of these children been a blessing to our family? Absolutely!
You, reader, are needed right now by so many children in our state. Connecticut is lacking foster homes. This crisis is far too easy to look away from.
"I don't have time to be a foster parent and I can't afford a child," you may say.
Guess what? No one has time to be a foster parent. As for the material and health care costs of a child in foster care, that’s provided by the state.
Please, don't ever use the excuse, "I could do foster care, but I couldn't give the children back." Newsflash: The children that foster families care for are not their children. The State of Connecticut has full custody of and is responsible for these children. The role of a foster parent is to provide a safe and stable environment for children in need.
Disclaimer: It's not always sunshine and rainbows working with the Department of Children and Families. The department is far from perfect from the top all the way down. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't learn more about how to help children, who through no fault of their own, were born into families unable to properly care for their needs.
Get to a free, no obligation informational session to learn how to become licensed to foster or adopt a child in Connecticut's foster care system. To borrow the Peace Corps slogan, "It's the toughest job you'll ever love."
Monday February 5, 2018 6:30 Waterford Public Library
Wednesday February 7, 2018 7:00 Groton Public Library
Saturday February 10, 2018 9:30 Waterford Country School office
Thursday February 15, 2018 6:30 Groton Public Library
Kerri Charette is a former teacher in Ledyard and a mother to five children (one through adoption). Kerri was a family recruiter for a local adoption agency (2004-2008) and her family has provided foster care to more than 100 children.
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