I started the Card Shower project back in 2007 while my family was waiting to adopt a child. We finally adopted four children from another state via AdoptUSKids.com. Early on, I kept in touch with child protective service agencies throughout the United States.
During those years, I developed a relationship with the case workers and their caseloads of children, who waited to be matched with prospective adoptive parents.
The matching part of adoption is time-consuming and sometimes discouraging. Each stage of our adoption journey seemed to drag on. Each time we inquired about a child online through AdoptUSKids, we would try to remain hopeful, wondering, “Is this our child?” We waited patiently to move on through the next stage.
In the beginning, I depended on our agency to follow up with the children’s case worker. There were many delays in the process. The agencies would reply,”We received an outdated home study from your agency, we need a current home study.” The job of inquiring and making sure the correct case worker received our information was more complicated than I had imagined.
The red tape seemed endless. Every year we would update our information to fulfill our home-study. Every year we would submit our fit test of personal information — copies of our taxes, health records, employer recommendations, background criminal checks, recommendations from friends, personal essays and checking and savings statements. Then we would wait.
Inquiring about children was more like a full time job, and I would inquire almost daily. After hundreds of inquiries, we were finally matched after six long years of submitting home studies all over the fifty states.
During those years of inquiring, I read hundreds of children’s profiles. Many profiles specify the child’s personality, their abilities and desires. Over the course of many years, I would watch many of the kids profile pictures change and mature. I saw some of these kids sprout into awkward teenagers before my eyes, online.
“Neveah has made significant progress in her studies. She is learning to be independent and cope with her loss. She wants to be a flight nurse when she grows up.” “Gina has developed her own belief path and needs an adoptive family who will honor her beliefs and not attempt to convert her to their own.” “Micah would be fine with two dads or two moms.” “Cody wants to keep in touch with his brother, who is being planned for separately.”
I hoped that legislation would change who was fit to adopt. The premise of adoption needs to change. We need all kinds of families to join in the mix and be considered fit to adopt, not just traditional families.
During my late night inquiries, I asked one of the social workers if I could send a teen a card to let them know I cared about what happened to them.
“Of course!” was the social worker’s response. The first child to receive such a card from me lived in Florida…then one in Nevada…and thus, an idea was born.
Hosting a “Card Shower” is a great way to dip your toes into discussing foster care and adoption with your family. We encourage kids and families to make a card for a teen who is waiting to be adopted.
After careful review of the child’s profile, the writer is encouraged to connect with words. It’s about finding common things to discuss and then kindly writing that sentiment in a recycled card. It’s really not very hard at all.
These teenagers live with foster families and in group homes throughout the United States. Our program specifically reaches out to youth who are between the ages of 13 to 21 years old. We take particular pride in reaching out to teenagers who are harder to place in most traditional families. We support all LGBTQ individuals, both prospective adoptive parents and teens.
So why do this, what’s the value in a simple card for a youth going through so much in life? Because these teens deserve to know you care about them. The average time a child spends in foster care is 3.5 years before they are adopted. Discrimination in adoption is real and until everyone can adopt, I believe these kids will continue to wait longer periods, and many will never get adopted. Instead, they will spend years in foster care and eventually age out of this system that is supposed to be helpful and not hurtful
Give teens an extra gift of kindness. Reach out to kids like Neveah, tell her that she should not give up that dream to be a flight nurse. Respect different beliefs; encourage kids like Gina to have a voice about their beliefs. Advocate for same-sex prospective adoptive parents who deserve to get the same opportunity to parent kids like Micah. Reconnect and affirm that relationships between siblings can and should continue after an adoption plan happens for kids like Cody.
To learn more about hosting your own Card Shower Project, or how you can help refer children to the program to receive cards, please contact Veronica Chenik Gilmore at [email protected] Each time a crafter makes a recycled card for a teenager, they pledge to send a $1 donation to Camp Quest or The Sanctuary in Palm Springs, in lieu of purchasing a brand new card.