What if you chose to save one life this year? What if you cared enough to do something about children who are suffering?
There are roughly 500,000 children in foster care who hope that you will. There are not enough parents who say they will help. Indeed, there is a crisis in our nation; a crisis that you can help with.
You can do it. It is simply a matter of choosing to, or choosing not to. Most reading will choose not to. Most reading will stop right here, thinking they are too busy to save a life this year, or don’t know where to start. I think you want to make a difference, though. I believe you would like to save a life of a child in need.
The number of children placed into care peaked in 2002, with 524,000 children reported placed into foster care. According to a study by the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), the number of children placed into foster care fell to a low of 397,000 in 2012, and has again risen to 428,000 in 2015. During this time, around three-fourths of the United States reported increases in children placed into foster care during the years of 2014 and 2015. The larger number of children being placed into foster care, nationwide, is due much in part of an increase in parental drug usage and substance abuse, with Heroin use being the chief drug increasing among parents. Other substance abuse among parents include meth, cocaine and prescription medication abuse. Along with this, more children are also being placed into foster care due to parental neglect.
Where is the concern, though? Where is the alarm in our nation? Our nation’s government continues to pass legislation, policies, and programs, promises are made that no child will be left behind, and civic groups pledge to help children in need. Yet, much of it is talk, as nothing is done and no one seems to care enough to act. To be sure, the number of children living in poverty has risen over the past eight years, and shows no sign of decreasing. The same can be applied to the foster care system, as more and more children are placed into foster care, despite the fact that there are fewer foster parents and foster homes for these children to care for them.
You have probably heard the tale of the starfish. The author is unknown, yet it is a very popular story, and one that is told often. It is a story of a life being saved. It is a story of making a difference.
A man and his boy were walking along a deserted beach at sunrise. The night before, there had been a fierce and terrific storm. Now, hours later, the boy was curious what the storm brought, and asked his father to take him for a walk. When they stepped onto the beach, they were met with thousands of starfish, littering the beach. The sea creatures had been washed up onto the shore from the brutal storm, hundreds in each direction. Soon after the two began walking on the wet sands, the boy bent down and picked up a starfish, throwing it far into the ocean. After doing so, he then bent down and picked up another one, and threw that one into the water, as well. This went on for quite some time; starfish after starfish were thrown back into the ocean by the young boy. After watching his son for some time, the father was confused about what his son was hoping to accomplish and finally asked, “Son, what are you doing?”
“I’m throwing these starfish back into the ocean,” the young boy answered.
“I see. Tell me, please, why are you doing this?” the father continued questioning.
“Well Dad, the storm has washed all of these starfish onto the beach last night, and they can’t return to the ocean by themselves,” his son responded. “When the sun comes out, and starts warming up the beach, the starfish will all die. They won’t have oxygen, and won’t survive. The sun will also make it too hot for them. I have to throw them back into the water.” As he said this, his son continued picking up the starfish and throwing them back into the waters.
“But son, you can’t possibly save all of these starfish. Just look, there are hundreds and thousands of them along the beach. It’s useless. You can’t possibly make a difference.”
The boy stopped for a moment to take in his father’s words. Frowning, he looked down at the starfish around his feet. Then, the boy bent down, and picked up another starfish in his hand, before throwing it as far as he could back into the ocean. Turning to his father with a large grin spreading across his face, he simply said, “It made a huge difference for that one!”
This story can be about you. You see, you CAN make a huge difference in the life of just one child this year. You can stop the abuse of a child; a child who is in harm’s way as you read this. Instead of admiring the foster parent who is caring for a traumatized child in their home, you can become a foster parent to a child in need. Instead of commenting that the others are saints and angles for spending time with kids in need, you can become a mentor or a Big Brother or Sister. You could even adopt a child who is looking for a forever family. Yes, these all take sacrifices on your behalf. Yet, will these challenges be more difficult than it is for the child in poverty living blocks away from you? Will the sacrifice of your own time be any more difficult for the child who is being abused and neglected in your own neighborhood? You have it within you to change the future of a child, to bring joy and happiness to a child who is hurting, to save a life.
What if you chose to save one life this year?
Photo Credit: Getty Images