I stumbled upon this blog today on Twitter, and it resonated deeply with me.
Recently a teacher of one of our daughters learned she was in foster care and upon hearing that, she said, “I had no idea she was in foster care”. Why? Because, “she did not look like a foster child”. Selfishly, we were glad to hear that. In fact, it was a momentary dang right moment. You know, “dang right she doesn’t look like she is in foster care, she is our child and looks like our child.”
The dang right moment was fleeting, because as advocates and parents with a heart for foster care we began to ask ourselves, what does that mean?
What exactly does a foster kid look like?
Unfortunately, society has their opinion. Foster children are supposed to look sad, they are supposed to have behavioral problems, they are supposed to look disheveled and have clothes on that are too small or too large, or maybe a little too outdated. They are supposed to be distracted and disobedient. In fact, they might even look like a little criminal in a child’s body, because after all that is who they are, right??
No, that is not who they are. Our kids are beautiful, smart, caring, handsome, curious, resilient, funny, strong-willed, courteous, and thoughtful. Our children are survivors. They have seen many things, but are hopeful for a better future. They are children who just need love and acceptance. Not pity, judgment, or sympathy.
We hate that there are foster parents out there who have perpetuated this image by not making sure their foster children have all they need clothing and hygiene wise. We hate that the stereotype of foster children being behavioral problems is perpetuated by a lack of understanding within the educational system regarding how trauma affects the brain in a child. Ultimately, we hate that society has painted an image of what a “foster child looks like.”