It’s close to midnight and I’m in the E.R. I received a call earlier today about a foster teen in crisis. Clearly they felt that life was too confusing, cold, and lonely, and they tried the unthinkable… to end it. When I heard this info streaming through the phone receiver my heart sunk. To know that a child has felt so desperate that they would even contemplate such a permanent decision and then actually began to follow through with it… there are no words.
This child needed to have 24 hour supervision within the hospital by a caregiver. They currently have none. Not one parent or guardian that was willing or able to sit with them through what I imagine to be one of the most defining and scary moments in their life. Not one adult that would run to their side, hug on them, tell them they are so loved and wanted, and hang on their every word as they walked these deep waters together.
I’m here. Not because I know them. Not because I remotely know their whole story. I’m here not because I birthed them or signed the adoption papers. They don’t live on my street and play with my kids. I don’t see them at church on Sundays or at the soccer game. We have never met. I’m here because every child must know that they are guarded. They need to see that they are valued and loved. They need to know that when they open their eyes at 2 am, they will not be alone in their hospital room. I’m simply here because it just all doesn’t seem right to NOT be here.
The tragedy of it all is though they will be moved to a group home that will have therapy and a trained staff for their particular needs, it probably will never be enough. I fear they have already been lost to the system, wandering alone in a fog of homes, beds, adults, and places that blend together and none which stand out.
I’m not bashing the system. Social Services, though not perfect, do the best with what they have. But we as humans can do better, can’t we? I’m sounding like I’m on my high horse, which I don’t mean to. I’m just furious that we couldn’t have done better for them. Helped before it got to the point where we are now. I’m heartbroken that unless a miracle happens, they probably will never really recover from all of it and will forever carry the scars and effects of a life of neglect, abuse, and trauma. I’m determined to love this child, with the little time I have and let them know that I am here. Whether it is giggling over a silly show on the TV, getting some blankets to make them more cozy in this cold hospital setting, or just sitting here in silence as they try to sleep away the day, I will be here for tonight because we all need someone to be here.