What do you want to be when you grow up?

I got that question all the time when I was younger, I still get it all the time, phrased a little differently of course. I remember some of my answers. For a while, I wanted to be the president, after learning more about politics than what I saw on tv, that job does not look all that glamorous. I wanted to be a doctor, a basketball player, a lawyer and anthropologist, and then I wanted to be a journalist. And then I never wanted to be anything else.

It is my favorite question to ask kids, which is probably why adults asked it to me when I was a kid. I have a part time job off campus in Spokane with DSHS where I work with foster kids and I love asking what they want to be when they grow up. A six year old girl told me she wanted to be the tooth fairy. A five year old boy told me he wanted to be a judge, but he was worried that he would let bad people go. A lot of boys and girls told me they wanted to be veterinarians, doctors, and nurses. There are always little boys and girls who want to mommies or daddies. The answer that gets me the most, tugs at my heartstrings is cop or police officer, because it’s never just “I want to be a cop.” It’s always “I want to be a good cop.” These children, four, six, eight, these young children have had enough experience with cops to believe that there is a difference between the good one and the bad ones.

I was raised to trust the police, they’re my friend, if I get lost or I can’t find my mom, I should look for a police officer (or another mom.) I still believe that that’s true. Of course, I was raised in an area where I never had a reason to not believe it.

Recent events have lead me to question some things and I do believe that the system is broken, but that’s a story for another day. What I’m trying to talk about is how it breaks my heart that foster kids have to go through so much hurt and pain throughout their time in the system. This is something I’ve seen from a variety of angles. I volunteered with a really cool receiving care organization on the westside called Safe Place, my family has welcomed kids in our home, and I’ve worked with for the state with kids just entering the system, or those that had been there for a while.

I don’t have a solution. I just sat down to write this and this is what poured out. I have some recommendations: educate yourself. If you don’t know what’s going on with foster care look it up. Also, if you can give, please do. Organizations like Safe Place are doing wonderful things to minimize trauma when kids enter the system.

I know that for me, foster care is going to be a thing I’m passionate about for a while. I’ve seen too much to be silent and ignore the issue.

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