I met a wonderful young man named Jordan several years ago while volunteering for a camp for foster children, and I later got to know him a little better while helping to create a foster youth mentoring program. The program is up and running now, and I have moved on to help create another. But this morning I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with the little boy’s then-foster father, who has since become Jordan’s foster adoptive father.
The father said Jordan has his own coffee business now. Jordan is only 14, so I’m sure you could image my surprise. With great pride, the father told me the entire story. I asked him what made the difference for Jordan.
He said Jordan’s response when asked that months prior was, “Because someone finally believed in me.” Because one person believed in Jordan, he is now on the fast track to millionaire by the time he reaches adulthood.
It only took one person to change the direction of Jordan’s life. One person believed in him, encouraged him and guided him to the right decisions to find his success story.
Sound crazy? I can personally attest to the fact that it is not. Last week at a foster parent training session, I was asked by a sweet little lady, “At what point did you become a world changer?”
My response: “The moment someone believed in me.”
““How long did that take, honey?” she asked. I said, “Last year, when I turned 50.” Tears filled her eyes, and she said, “Sweetie, no one believed in you before then?” I said, “No Ma’am, if they did, then I didn’t know it”.
She looked me directly in the eyes and gave me a really big hug. With tears streaming down both of our faces she said, “I just heard your story and I want you to know … I believe in you.”
On June 24, 2012, as I walked from the mailbox to the house, I opened a piece of mail. The letter was dated June 18, 2012 and was from Congressman Tom Price’s office. It was an official letter informing me I had been nominated as a 2012 Congressional Angel in Adoption Award winner.
Someone read a nomination entry and believed in me, my journey, my cause and my passion. Because one person believed in me, she gave me the courage, self-esteem and self-worth to begin a completely new and different chapter in my life.
Today, just one year later, over 250 foster children have given me rocks with their pain written across it. I take them home and I plant them under my weeping willow. That’s where “The Garden of Pain” lives. In return, I replace the children’s pain with a blanket of hugs. A blanket where the children can wrap themselves when they need a hug, or to know someone cares.
I have trained, inspired and equipped more than 475 foster parents with the tools to understand the fear and trauma that lives inside the hearts and minds of the children in their care. I have connected over 299 foster children to resources and have shared my life story, “The Journey”, with many different communities and organizations. Over 1,200 lives touched in less than one year, all because one person believed in me.
For a child in foster care, or from an abused environment, one person caring about you is often the difference between success and failure. We, as foster children, often feel like that dog in the pen barking, wagging our tail and anxiously wiggling around hoping to be “the one.”
You know – the one in the adoption pen trying to get you to take an interest in ‘me’. The torture of trying to figure out what works best, how to catch that quick glimpse that might just turn into a lengthy gaze. Then there is the hope of all hopes, that you will be the chosen one.
But that dream is too often elusive for a foster child. It seems as if you sit in that same cage day after day, year after year, waiting, wanting, thirsting. Thirsting for success and knowing the only way you will probably ever achieve it, is if ONE person, just one person, reaches out, and believes in you.
Most foster children who become successful, typically say there was one person who believed in them, encouraged them and gave them the inner strength to believe in themselves. It almost seems as if it all comes down to ‘the roll of the dice’.
Never underestimate your ability to be a world changer by merely believing in someone less fortunate than you. There is no cost for the effort, and the savings to America? Priceless, in SO many different ways.
Helen Ramaglia is a foster alumni who became a foster/adoptive parent. She is the founder and Director of Fostering Superstars, a Congressional Award Winner for her work with foster children and is the author of “From Foster to Fabulous”. She is a popular speaker, trainer and advocate for foster children.
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