I lost count of the number of children my grandmother fostered over the years.
This came to mind recently when I saw a statistic which indicated that there are almost 30,000 children in the Texas Foster Care system.
Let that number sink in.
Thirty thousand children.
One of the biggest blessings any of us can ever receive during our time on earth is to have a family who loves us.
I have to be honest and say that I took my family for granted during my younger years. It never occurred to me that anyone else had a family that was anything less than great.
My grandmother was one of the best reasons that my family was great.
My mom’s mother was the strongest person I’ve ever known. She grew up poor in Arkansas, one of several children, and raised six of her own children on a homestead with no running water or electricity.
Her name was Leona.
She was a God-fearing woman who took the words of the Holy Bible to heart. When she saw someone who was less fortunate, she accepted the responsibility of doing whatever she could to help them.
This included taking in Foster Children.
I was maybe nine or 10 when Wanda came to live with my grandparents. Wanda was pretty, smart and a few years older than I was. I didn’t understand why she didn’t live with her own parents, and no one ever discussed it. But, I could see that Wanda considered all of us her family. And we treated her as if she was.
Peggy came later. Peggy was younger than me. Again, nothing was said about where she’d been, but, Peggy, like Wanda, considered us her family.
Wanda stayed for a number of years, Peggy until adulthood.
There were other Foster Children who came and went. I wish I could remember their names.
What I know now that I didn’t know then is that when it comes to growing up, the playing field is not even. Maybe it’s the luck of the draw. Maybe it’s part of a greater plan. But the fact is this: some kids have parents who are loving, kind, fair and supportive, and some kids don’t.
My grandmother was proof that money doesn’t fix the problems these kids have. She didn’t have much.
When my grandmother died, she left little in the way of earthly possessions. She had given most of it away to those she felt needed it more than she did. Much of what she gave away over the years went to her Foster Children.
But, what she imparted to everyone who knew her were far greater than possessions; it was her heart.
At her funeral, I saw many of these same faces. Some had traveled many miles for the service at the church we had all attended as kids. The Foster Children sat with the family.
They called her “Mother”.
The woman who had brought us all together on holidays so many years before, had brought us together one last time.
Today, for the 30,000 children in Texas who don’t have a family like the one my grandmother gave to so many, it is my hope that they soon will.
Because all kids deserve a Happy Mother’s Day.