Last night my student asked why we had homestay children when both my husband and I work. "You don't need the money, right?" he asked plainly. "It's true, we don't." I smiled at him. "We are homestay parents because we like children!"
He looked at me like I had three heads. "Well why don't you just get pregnant and have more Noahs?"
I stopped for a second. I could have said a number of things. I could have said we liked older kids (which is true) or that we wanted the invaluable experience of sharing our home with children from other countries (which is also true).
Instead, I hit my little 11 year old homestay son with the truth. "Well, Noah is adopted, and adopting children can sometimes take a long time. We wanted Noah to have other kids in the house now." I had to explain what the term adoption meant, but once he understood, he got awfully quiet.
For once, my overly chatty pre-teen had nothing to say. He took a moment to digest the news, and I awaited his response, wondering what unfiltered comment would come flying from his mouth. (One of my favourite things about the kid is that he tells you EXACTLY what he's thinking!)
He was quiet for several moments before commenting "Wow, thank you for telling me your secret! I promise, I won't tell Noah!"
Now it was my turn to be stunned into silence. This young man hails from the largest metropolitan city in Korea. I don't know why I expected his thoughts about adoption to be like ours here in the west. I naively figured the whole world was embracing ideas of openness and shared information.... and I had to shake my head and remind myself that this was, after all, a little boy from the other side of the globe.
He was brave enough to come here and stay with us, this strange family, and listen as we explained our way of life. The least I could do was explain how wonderful adoption was in our family, and how it was no secret, and wasn't that wonderful?
I added to his shock. I logged onto the computer and showed off pictures of Noah and his big brother. That threw him for a loop - but I could see the wheels of acceptance and understanding turning as he translated the information (not just from English to Korean, but also from secrecy to openness) in his mind and heart.
It was a pretty powerful conversation. One I had to laugh about at the end. My homestay son looked at me with a very stern eye and said "You're not going to adopt ME, I hope!"
No, my dear, we're not. But we're glad you're part of our family for now.
Monday, October 3, 2011
This letter is from Deputy Minister Stephen Brown in appreciation of foster families, and MCFD staff this October. Help celebrate foster family month by giving thanks all of those that help support our children and youth in care.
October is Foster Family Month in British Columbia, a time to acknowledge and celebrate the extraordinary work of foster families throughout the province – families who provide a healthy, stable and caring home for children and youth, at a time when they need it the most.
It’s also a time to recognize the important role of so many ministry staff in supporting the vulnerable children and youth who come into government care – as well as the many families who need our assistance to become healthy enough to care for their own. The connections you forge with foster families and the bridges you help build to community services and organizations not only help keep children safe but work to create a strong system of support that they can rely on for many years to come.
Each day, you are faced with complex, challenging and extraordinarily sensitive situations – and each day you rise to the challenge of your work, knowing that your support for children, youth, families and foster families can make all the difference.
I’ve been fortunate to meet with some of you over the past six months and I look forward to meeting more of you as I continue to travel the province. I also want to acknowledge the work of not just front line staff, but those who work ‘behind the scenes’ to help improve our system of care and make it more responsive to the needs of those we serve.
This October, please join me in acknowledging foster families around the province – and don’t forget to take a few moments to acknowledge the importance of your own work and that of your colleagues. It can – and does – change lives.