But it’s never worse than around holiday time. That’s when the devastating differences are most glaring. Like when I find out (unfortunately, after the fact), that one of my kids has been kicked out of foster care, after living in a crap foster home for many years; left with no support system and no place to go on Thanksgiving.
That’s when I find out that another of my kids, who is about to age out, is so overwhelmed that he could not see his way clear to accept the invitation of his caring mentors. That’s when I most struggle as I watch what my kids post on Facebook about the day-to-day drama in their lives, much of which is typical teenage drama, but experienced without the caring parents to help them to get through it.
And sadly, this year, that’s when I find out that the group mentoring program (Fairfax Families4kids) that has made such a difference in the lives of the children who participate has been relegated to a boiler plate request for proposal in an attempt to farm it out to a vendor who may or may not see the tremendous value in the existing aspects of the program.
So this time of year is bittersweet for me, moments of pure joy and happiness for an annual shoot with children I have watched grow up and new kids I’m meeting for the first time. All kids who I see with loving parent/s and who tell me about the upcoming holidays when they will see grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and more. And pets (like my own two beagles) who have lives that are often better than the children in foster care.
And moments of pure sadness, when I am reminded of how hard life can be by one of my wonderful kids who was moved from one foster home to another. When I asked him how it was going, he replied, “Good. I’m hungry all the time, but they are fair.”
So as I put together holiday images for my wonderful client-families it’s not without a few tears of joy for those the happy smiling families with much look forward to and with painful sadness for the children who will spend yet another holiday alone. In a group home. In a residential treatment facility. In a foster home. Children who are often overlooked and forgotten. Children who exist all over the country and all over the world.
If you are interested in getting involved with children in foster care through mentoring, adoption, fostering or doing what I do, making sure that they have pictures that show them that they matter, that someone cared enough to capture their image – here are a few links to get you started. Wednesday’s Child – Look for sweet Jarred (NY) – who I photographed a few weeks ago. Fairfax Families4kids, creating long-term relationships and connections for children who likely would otherwise age of of foster care alone.
But, during this holiday season, please also celebrate some of the wonderful families I photographed this year. Families that come in all shapes, sizes and configurations.