Volunteering as an Office Mom or Office Dad can be emotionally draining – especially when the solution seems so simple. This guest blog was written by one of our dear Volunteer Coordinators after a particularly difficult shift. It is honest and raw, and struck a chord with me. I asked if I could share her perspective with the hope that it might inspire others to see that there is a simple solution – albeit not an easy one – to this crisis we find ourselves in. The crisis shortage of foster homes.
Today was hard. I sat with two little girls for 5 hours. They were only 3 and 5 years old, but so sweet and full of constant energy. We cut out paper hearts, colored, cut and pasted, played with toys, and put puzzles together. The girls wanted to go play in the snow, but we could only look at it through the windows into the parking lot. It was a long time for them to be stuck in an office, but Child Welfare couldn’t find a home for them to go to.
Then, just when the social worker thought she’d found a place, it fell through and she had to start searching all over again. These sisters had already been through so many transitions. They were exhausted and uncertain of what was coming. The littlest would go from content play to sudden tears, then back to play again. Finally, an emergency placement was found for the night, but that meant tomorrow would bring yet more transitions.
I was told that someone was on the way, so I started cleaning up and getting ready to go. When I put on my coat, the 3-year-old lost it. She wanted to know if I was going to my house, then for the next 20 minutes she clung to me crying over and over “wif you, wif you”. I kept telling her that I couldn’t take her with me, but I would sit with her for a while. I stayed and held her until she cried herself to sleep, then I had to leave her sleeping on a couch.
OMD shifts are often emotional, but this was the first time I couldn’t hold it together. I cried and cried. I can’t think about her waking up to more strangers. Starting all over again. I feel guilty that my face is the last one she saw before falling asleep and won’t be there when she wakes up. What if they don’t find a home that can take them both and they must be split up? The frustration mixes with sadness and it stings. We desperately need more foster homes. These children desperately need stability.
If you have never thought about being a foster parent, will you? You could change a child’s life. You might be that one person who helps them understand just how loved and special they really are. If you have a home and love to give, you can change the world through the kids you welcome into it.
(After writing this, we got a call the next day to go sit with the same girls. They were still in transition. One of our Office Moms, who is also a foster parent, sat with them for another 4.5 hours before they went to their temporary placement.)
Written by Marleen Payment
Marleen is the Volunteer Coordinator for the Shelton, Wa OMD program