Personal storytelling is a powerful way to connect real-life scenarios to important practice issues and raise awareness about how the foster care system can support youth and families. The stories in Reflections: Stories of Foster Care highlight the important role kinship caregivers play in the lives of children and youth in foster care, and best practices for how kinship support programs and other foster care service agencies can act as a support to children, youth and families. We are SO grateful to have an amazing Southeast Missouri family included in these stories!

We take this time to celebrate you for all you’ve done
For caring for your granddaughter and your grandson
You took on this awesome task that no one else could do,
Because no one loves and cares for your grandchild quite like you.
Raising your grandchildren at an age when
You thought you might retire, travel and rest
But the children needed caregivers, and they needed the best.
Some came to you in pampers and most in tears
Needing nurturing and someone who cares.
Others came as toddlers, exploring the world on the run
You couldn’t believe this happened- after you thought that you were done.

Still others came at school age, when they needed guidance and direction
Science may have you baffled but you are great at giving affection.
And some of you have teenagers, oh my, what can I say.
Just keep reminding yourself that they won’t stay this way.
We know it has not been easy-often quite a heavy load
And there have been many bumps along the road
You’ve been misunderstood, labeled and denied the services you need
Often criticized and not recognized for your labor or your good deed.

But we honor you who have done so much
To change the lives of children with your special touch
We thank you grandparents: we thank you once, we thank you twice
And know you are appreciated for the rest of your life.

Thank you, caregivers.

From the Brookdale Foundation Group’s Relatives as Parents Program, written by Rolanda Pyle, 2020

K-Kindness to those children in need
I-Ironic to be parenting a second time around
N-Needed by displaced children
D-Desire to help children in need
S-Sacrifice to insure children thrive
H-Hopeful we will make a difference
I-Involved in every aspect of their development
P-Parenting and everything that may involve

C-Caring enough to do the work
A-Agape love for the children
R-Rescuers of children in need
E-Emotionally drained at times
G-Grateful for the opportunity to help
I-Interested in the children’s thoughts and dreams
V-Valued asset to the children we care for
E-Enormous task that we willingly undertake
R-Resolved to do whatever it takes
S-Simple- we do whatever it takes

Provided by a Kinship Caregiver, 2020

Two women gave birth today each one had a boy. 
One was filled with sadness one was filled with joy.
Jame’s parents didn’t want him he was an accident.
Johns parents told everyone that he was heaven-sent.
From that day forth their lives took different paths.
Johns’s life was filled with love and care: James was filled with wrath.

John had a home with parents who were always there.
James had a house with two adults who really didn’t care.
What each boy learned over the years would shape his way of life.
John lived with peace, joy, and love while James lived in strife.
John was hugged and taught and treated with respect.
James was seldom touched or taught- a victim of neglect.
John saw his mom and dad work together as a team.
James saw his mom and dad treat each other very mean.
John learned that home was a place of peace and rest.
James understood that in his house, he was just a pest.
John learned right from wrong and to never tell a lie.
James learned he could get his way if he would scream and cry.
John was given discipline that was always right and fair.
James was neglected and abused more than he could bear.

The years went by and each boy grew up to be a man.
John had some goals for his life; James didn’t have a plan.
Eventually, each man took a wife for different reasons indeed.
Johns was to have and to hold. James to satisfy a physical need.
Each man had children over the next several years.
Johns’s home was filled with smiles; In James’ house, there were tears.
John worked hard at his job and earned his weekly pay.
James quit some very good jobs because things didn’t go his way.

John loved his wife and kids as everyone could see.
James really didn’t care and dreamed of being free.
John shared with his family the necessity of prayer.
James never shared anything for he was seldom ever there.
Johns’s kids did well in school and brought honor to their dad.
The ones who taught James kids said all of them were bad.
John became well known as one on whom you could depend.
James ended up in prison without family or friend.

Both John and James were products of how each was taught.
Johns folks share in his success; James folks must share the fault.
To see the future we can many times look at the past.
Both James and John came for the mold in which they were cast.
For generations to come what does the future hold?
The same mistakes repeated unless we break the mold.
Whether good or bad children live what they see.
This can ultimately determine how they turn out to be.
There is no running from the responsibility to whom its cast upon.

Do we give the world a James or give the world a John?

Provided by a Kinship Caregiver, 2020