By Jennifer L. Colter, Communications Director of Thompson Child and Family Focus
Rarely does Thompson’s foster care team have a day that is uneventful. When your job entails children and their well-being-especially their long-term outcomes, day-to-day experiences are going to be challenging and have an effect at the end of the day.
Jen Stout, Director of Family Support Services (Foster Care) at Thompson, shared a recent experience that stopped me in my tracks. Her account of a biological mom who signed her rights away to her children immediately touched my heart when I read it. Jen expressed in her post that the mother reflected on the choices she made that resulted in her inability to care for her children. And the day had come when her kids would become part of a brand new family.
The foster parents who will now become the adoptive parents to her three precious little boys were present and needless to say, emotions raced around the room. Heartbreak wasn't lost on anyone who witnessed the biological mother tearfully signing off on all the paperwork because in moments like this, it's a beginning as well as an ending. There's joy and there's sorrow- side by side.
As the last document was signed and amid streams of tears, the "new" mom hugged the mother while telling her that she is the bravest person she knew. Brave, courageous, selfless, loving and much, much more!
Jen Stout expressed that from her professional perspective, this experience was "truly humbling". But as a mother of both biological and adopted children, the experience hit close to home. She couldn’t help but remember that bittersweet day when her foster child became her son. And sitting there that day witnessing this family’s interaction just reinforced her passion for finding forever homes for the children Thompson serves.
With thousands of children in need of good homes, this work is critical because foster care workers are the link between a child's present and their future. Each day a child spends away from their parents or adults who truly care about them, their self-esteem is impacted. Transition, uncertainty, loss, and sometimes fear becomes their normal. Charlotte’s many foster care programs are working hard to do just that. Create new and better outcomes for kids and creating a new normal.
When I think of this experience and the many others Jen has shared with me, I think about all of us who work in the mission-driven space. Although we work among various organizations and causes, each of us plays an important role in the lives of those we serve-no matter the NPO.
From foster care, mental health services, and early childhood development, to family stability, food insecurity, homelessness and the gamut-those who lead our programs, work within the schools, provide counseling and therapy, and even prepare meals to ensure families within communities can thrive, your very presence makes the difference. The work we're all doing presently is creating the impact that will be seen in Charlotte's communities in the future. WE, collectively and collaboratively, are the change that must happen now.
Just like that biological mother, all of us have had life experiences that have changed or transformed us to some degree. Perhaps it’s those experiences that drive our passion for the work we do. Regardless of the reasons, through our work and commitment to our organizations, we are now creating new outcomes, narratives, and milestones for not only the people we serve but for our individual selves.
DID YOU KNOW: Thompson is in the running to win $5K this month thanks to Amy and Brian France Foundation who have partnered with SHARE Charlotte for this year’s Spotlight Series and YOU can help when you VOTE NOW! You can also check out the other organizations eligible to win this month’s prize, here!