Why Being a Foster Care Kid Was the Best Thing That Ever Happened to My Dad
If it hadn't been for foster care...my dad wouldn't be the person he is today...
Highly Successful Small Business Owner...
(even "retired" at age 53)
ALMOST MILLIONAIRE. (my Dad always taught me to be HONEST at all times...so I AM)
But if you ask my extremely humble dad...
He'll tell you he's not rich...
rather he'll say "I've been really lucky", or "I didn't do to bad for a poor foster kid who doesn't even have a high school diploma!"
So How Does a 4 Year Old Jewish Boy End Up In Foster Care Shortly After WWII?
Sadly, it was because of the sudden death of my Grandpa.
In 1937, one cold, Minnesota winter morning, a man was rushed to a small hospital by his wife. She was worried about his severe stomach pains and vomiting...the kind which seemed to be his whole insides.
It wasn't long before the doctors discovered a bleeding ulcer that erupted shortly after arriving.
The 53 year old husband and father...of 6 young children...was pronounced dead.
My grandma was devastated...and scared to death of raising and feeding 6 children all by herself.
My Dad was only 2 when his father died.
After struggling for close to 2 years, my grandma was forced to put four of her children in foster care because of poverty.
It's been whispered in our family...
that a wealthy cousin proposed to marry my grandma...but she refused.
He had been in a horrible fire and was severely deformed from first degree burns over his entire body.
Bottom line - my Grandma couldn't marry for money...she didn't love him.
To this day, my Dad and his brothers wonder how things might have turned out differently...?
So my dad went into his first foster care home at the age of 4 years old.
He remembers being told by the social workers that he was going to visit a farm with barnyard animals. There was no farm...and no cute farm animals either.
He grew up in 4 different homes over 14 years.
Some Homes Were Better Than Others.
The last home was the worst...and he lived there for 7 years. It was a 20 acre vegetable trucking farm owned by a hard-working German-American couple.
Don't ask me why my Jewish born Dad was sent to live with a bitter German-American couple shortly after WWII!
Must have slipped through the cracks - a mistake.
Any way, this couple worked him every day after school on their farm picking tomatoes and other vegetables...
Almost like a slave. He wasn't allowed any water breaks, so he used to secretly squeeze the juice out of the tomatoes when they weren't looking for something to drink.
He wasn't allowed to use the indoor bathroom (he had to use the outhouse), he was allowed only 1 bath a week with 1 bucketof cold and hot water taken in the basement, he slept in the attic, and he wasn't allowed to use the faucet or eat on the same dishes as the couple.
But my dad does speak highly of the food...his favorite was fried potatoes with baked beans and bacon.
How generous of them to feed their FREE laborer!
One of my Dad's happiest memories was being in the hospital for 3 days for Scarlett fever.
Now, most kids don't talk about liking being sick or being in the hospital!
But my Dad said the nurses were so nice...he took warm baths...and he even got ice cream!
It's hard for me to listen to my Dad's stories...especially since I'm a mother myself.
It makes me admire my Dad all the more for his success...and how he passed on to me THE most valuable lesson ever...
A STRONG WORK ETHIC.
Also the need to give back.
Why My 2 Daughters, Rachel & Maria, Are Named After 2 Foster Care Girls
So you've heard the not-so-good childhood of my Dad, but that doesn't mean that ALL foster parents are evil.
Far from it.
For example, my Aunt Dorothy.
She raised some 15 foster care kids, along with her own three children, for 20 years.
I got to know quite a few of her "little angels" as she affectionately called them over my years growing up.
She loved and treated them all like one of her own children...and it showed.
My aunt is 80 years old now...and she still gets Christmas cards, birthday cards, phone calls, and visits from her foster kids.
When I was about 9 or 10 years old, she had two sisters near my age that I remember playing with often.
That was when I was really into "Barbie Dolls"...and we played for hours!
I also remember them both having lice and my aunt and my mom shampooing and combing through their hair by the lake we lived on...yuk!
I had almost forgotten these two little girls...when it hit me that I ended up naming both of my two daughters...
Rachel and Maria...their exact same names!
I don't think so...they had a profound influence on me...and made me feel the need to help others.
4 Kids Under the age of 6...And a 16 Year Old Troubled Teen Girl?
My husband says I'll take in every stray puppy who wanders up to our door...and any stray kid too!
That may be true...but I didn't blink an eye when my niece needed me.
She was 16 at the time...running away...drinking and partying...and causing my single parent sister MAJOR breakdowns.
So my niece came to live with us (and all 4 kids) for a year until she got her act straightened out.
It wasn't easy though...we had to put her in drug and alcohol treatment...and many sessions of counseling.
But it was worth every minute, and if I had to do it all over again...I would do exactly the same thing.
My friends and family thought Andy and I were nuts to take in a troubled teen with 4 little kids of our own...
I thought they were nuts to think I would do anything other than take her in!
That's what foster care provides...unconditional love and understanding for kids who need it.
Do you recognize any of these famous people...who were all foster care kids?
One of the world's most beautiful and famous movie stars of all time...
A genius comedian who is best known for his appearances on Saturday Night Live and for his movies "Beverly Hills Cop", "Trading Places", and "The Nutty Professor"...
First lady and married to one of our country's most beloved Presidents...
along with some history-making achievements of her own.
Here Are Some More You May Or May Not Recognize:
Tom Monaghan, super-successful businessman and KING of PIZZAS - Dominoes...
Daunte Culpepper, NFL star quarterback...even with the Minnesota Vikings (my home state, don't ya know!)
Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Psychologist and Author...
and Dan O’Brien...Olympic Gold Medalist...
You Can Read All These Stories and More Here
All of these former foster card kids beat the odds stacked against them...and become highly successful...
Because someone...maybe you, your relative, your friend, or your co-worker...
believed in these kids...
And gave THE GREATEST GIFT EVER...
Some foster kids needing homes are abused, neglected, or abandoned...right here in the good ole United States.
Can you believe there are over a half million kids in the foster care system right now?
And it's not their fault, they weren't "naughty" or "bad"...to be "put" in foster care.
NOT AT ALL.
If my own Dad, Sandy Smith, can end up being a foster kid...it can happen to your kids too.
And yes, it was tough having the name "Sandy" for a guy...
Luckily, my dad is built like a brick house...so most of the kids didn't dare tease him!
The type of home life you provide for your children has a huge impact on your kids financial success
The reason is because most millionaires come from stable, nurturing homes.
My Dad always told me I could achieve anything that I wanted...if I worked hard and believed in myself.
Shouldn't ALL KIDS be told this?
And have a safe, loving home?
Foster care does this every day.
That's my dream.
And like my Aunt Dorothy, I'm going to hopefully make a difference in kids lives as a foster parent.
Depending on your situation, there are many ways to help...
Believe me...the pay off for foster care is way more rewarding that anything you can imagine...
and you'll be setting an excellent example of caring and giving for your kids to follow.
Types of Foster Care:
Long term care
Short Term Care
On average, foster kids remain in the system for 32 months, and only half return to their parents.
You can get more statistical foster care information at the U.S. Government's AFCARS website.
You could also contribute to foster care organizations to help with the transition of foster kids into adulthood.
Would you ever expect your 18 year old to be financially on his own?
That's exactly what's expected of foster kids who age out and turn 18 years old.
Sadly, many of them end up homeless, pregnant at an early age, or in prison. So any way you can help makes a HUGE IMPACT.
Basic Requirements of Foster Care usually include:
* completion of an application for family home license * background check, criminal history check and finger printing of each adult member of the household * family stability * home inspection and personal interview * character references * minimum age of applicant: 21 * prior to licensure/certification pre-service training
Foster parents receive a partial reimbursement of costs incurred for each child in your care.
You can download information about foster care payment rates from the Casey National Center for Resource Family Support.
So remember, although some kids have come from broken families and homes...ALL can achieve success and happiness...
And Become Millionaires-in-the-Making!
Do you have what it takes to help?