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By Cathleen Trigg
November is National Adoption Month. You probably haven’t seen much fanfare about it. It’s not topping any headlines. There are no huge rallies to raise awareness. But there should be. Nearly 500-thousand children in our country are fighting a war every single day. A war for survival. That is the approximate number of children living in foster care in the United States — worldwide there are nearly 20 million orphans!
Life for these children is unlike anything most of us can fathom. I was one of the lucky ones, or “blessed” as I prefer to call it. I was adopted when I was 18-months old. Prior to my angels arriving to take me into their loving hearts and home, I was shifted between family members and foster homes, I now know I was in a total of 5 homes before I was even two years old. I thank God every single day for the gift of having a family to call my own. Like every family, there were ups and downs, and my upbringing was far from perfect, but I can’t imagine the alternative. How devastating it must be for the hundreds of thousands of innocent, precious little souls, to spend their entire lives dreaming, wishing and hoping for the gift of a family, that never comes.
My heart truly breaks every time I think of the many children caught up in a system of bureaucracy and red tape when they should instead be laughing and playing, and living a life free of concern and worry, in the safety and comfort of those who love them.
In my case, I was put up for adoption by a mother who realized she couldn’t care for me herself, so she gave me up hoping I would end up in the arms of someone who could. But that’s not always the case. Many of the children in foster care are ripped away from their parent’s arms because of suspected abuse, neglect or an inability to provide a safe, nurturing home environment — the basic necessities every human being deserves. Imagine the emotional scars and turmoil the children have already endured by the time the “system” is forced to step in to rescue them from the only home they have ever known, as unstable as it may be, only to thrust them into a world of more uncertainty, fear and instability.
Thankfully, not every child in foster care has a tumultuous experience. In fact, the majority of foster parents are loving and caring and do their absolute best to provide as much normalcy and structure as possible to these children whose lives have been turned upside down. But in many cases the emotional damage is already done, and without the support of a their family, it is extremely difficult for these children to develop trust and feel love the way children should.
Several years ago I started a non-profit organization called Trigg House. My dream is to help as many children as I can feel loved and supported. I often wonder what my life would have been like if my parents didn’t adopt me.
Even the most conservative studies show about one in five foster children who age out of the system, having never been adopted, will end up homeless. Less than 3% will earn a college degree. 71% of the girls will become pregnant before their 21st birthday. Many end up addicted to drugs, or dead.
I don’t know why my life was spared so much pain and suffering, but I feel a huge obligation to reach back and help those who are fighting the battle of their lives every single day.
I know I can’t realistically save the world, but if I can somehow just touch the life of one child at a time in a positive way that might make a difference, I will feel like my purpose on this earth has been met.
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