Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Résumé, Please

What if when you were pregnant your doctor handed you a résumé for your unborn child containing all of the difficulties, bad behaviors, and poor decisions your child would make in the future?

Your Precious Unborn Child
Due Date: March 2017

Infancy Highlights: 
-Will wake up every two hours screaming bloody murder
-Very colicky
-Won't sleep through the night for at least a year
Toddlerhood Highlights: 
-Will throw fits and pull hair often
-Scream bloody murder often
-Color with permanent marker on the wall
Elementary Highlights: 
-Will bite a kid in Kindergarten 
-Won't pay attention in school, very disruptive in class
-Swear at his 3rd grade teacher on a dare and get suspended
-Will be diagnosed with ADHD
Middle/High School Highlights: 
-Will have an insufferable attitude
-Pick constant fights 
-Be disrespectful 
-Slam doors constantly 
-Crash the car you bought him

After reading all those things would you then say "Uh, actually, this child is not the right fit for my family." You probably wouldn't, because you know that all those things would be worth it because you already love your child and know the positives outweigh the negatives. 

But that is exactly how foster care works. 

Caseworkers give foster families this type of résumé for foster kids who need homes and then hope someone wants to take a chance on the kid anyway. I get it. We need to be prepared for what we will come up against. But so often, these kids become defined by their résumé, and then that's all they are.

Think about it, do you want your résumé to be all you are to a potential employee? Sure, your résumé communicates valuable information about who you are and what you've done. But it is not all you are and does not describe all you can do. Don't you always want an interview – to be more than a list of facts and actions?

This is foster care. "Applying" to get a position in someone's home, in their family. Except that the kids don't even get to write their résumés. They don't get to say the good stuff, the important stuff, the things they are proud of. It's more often a résumé of failure being delivered to foster parents (imagine sending that into a potential employer). As a result, a lot of times, people are hesitant to take them in because all they know is a list of negative facts and behaviors.

But you and I are more than our résumés, and so are these kids. They need the opportunity to show themselves and others that they are more than their experiences or bad choices – that these things don't define them. They need someone to take a chance on them and work at training them for life, because most of them have never had that. This is what we need to offer these kids, as foster parents, mentors, friends, and extended family. We need to let them be more than their résumés.

1 comment:

  1. I loved your take on this. I'm someone who is very cautious with our family's set "limits," but I'm also learning that control is an illusion. Our last placement was 2.5 years old, which I thought would make her like a baby sister for my boys. She just happened to be a very mature 2-year-old and she was more like a twin/nemesis to my youngest, which was exactly what we had hoped to avoid. Plus of course she had behaviors I wasn't aware of at first. But I love her with all my heart, and her relationship with my youngest grew to be a truly special and beautiful thing. I still think it's good to be informed, but you just never know. We can't perfectly pick out kids for families. We just can't.