The latest decision on the Supreme Court ruling sparks more questions than answers. Some of the questions that come up, especially in the foster youth community, include but are not limited to: What does this mean for foster youth? What does this mean for future foster youth? What does this mean for future foster youth who are born in seemingly irreconcilable circumstances (such as those birthed out of rape or teen pregnancies)?
The Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade has changed the course of history and sparked so much controversy. Regardless of the stance you hold on this landmark decision, there is no issue that is more bi-partisan than that of foster care. It is vital that we keep current and former foster youth at the forefront of the conversation, as the Supreme Court’s decision will have a lasting impact on this population. I for one don’t want to fuel the raging fire of that controversy, but merely to be a bridge toward finding practical solutions in a fast-paced, ever-changing, messed-up world.
I have had a lot of questions about my birth since my biological mom passed away in 2001. The very first question that I wanted to ask my older sister was whether my biological mom ever wanted to abort me as a baby in the womb. I associated the answer to this question with the presumption that the answer would determine whether my life had any value. I found out that there was a lot of turmoil surrounding my mom’s pregnancy. I found out from my sister that the conception of my existence was frowned upon. On the one hand, I wanted to have a perspective of valuing my life and be able to say that I’m glad that she decided to keep me. On the other hand, I can understand being faced with the very difficult decision of keeping me even though I was the third and final child she had, during her late 40s, in mental distress, smoking countless cigarettes, and facing major socio-economic barriers. I’ve come to learn and understand that my life does have value regardless of what my mother’s circumstances were and despite the fact that I was the product of an unplanned pregnancy.
I also understand the anger that many might be facing who are foster youth and parenting at the same time. I understand the shame or trauma that comes for people when reflecting on the past. I understand the decisions that many face when they’re under the pressure of poverty and living with the turmoil of sexual trauma.
For those who are adamantly pro-choice, my call to action is to intensify your passion toward advocacy for parenting foster youth and soon-to-be mothers. Your empathy and compassion are needed by those faced with some detrimental, painstaking times ahead. Consider having conversations with people who disagree and build connections with them. We live in a very polarized world, and it’s important that you hold space for those conversations, and still choose those who are close to you, even if you disagree. This will help to get your point across!
For those reading this message who identify or align with the perspective of being pro-life, I ask you to value the lives of those who are already in foster care system, and who will come in to the foster care system, by becoming compassionate and caring foster parents. I ask you to contribute by pouring in your resources (treasure, time and talents), actively advocating for every foster youth in America until the number for foster youth in the foster care system goes from 400,000 to 0.
Historical, religious and spiritual texts such as the Bible have different scriptures for the value of life. For instance, Ephesians 1:4 says that we are predestined before the foundations of the world. Psalms 139:13 says we were knitted in our mother’s womb. Even Jesus placed a high value on babies and children and said that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven you must be like a child. I quote these Scriptures to bring to light the backbone of many people’s foundational beliefs and their pro-life stance.
I’ve heard it said that if one family in every church in America took in a foster youth and adopted them, there would be no more foster children in America. If you’re the type of person who prays, we need your intercession during this time. The automatic thought that came into my mind after this Roe v. Wade decision is the natural uptick of babies going directly into foster care. Since abortion might not be the most readily available option, foster care might be next best thing for many biological mothers.
The decision was based on the idea that having an abortion is not a constitutional right. Whether you agree with that or not doesn’t matter anymore. What’s done is done. It’s time to create the blueprints, create the strategies, be the change we want to see. If this idea of a life having value, whether it’s a premature baby girl, a 13-year-old girl, or, like the age of my mom when she had me, a 43-year-old woman, then don’t we have a responsibility to fight for these lives, too? They all have the possibility of intersecting with the foster care system and all will face the consequences of our apathy if we do nothing.
Here are some simple steps to engage this conversation further:
1. Research any organizations that are supporting foster youth and give your time, treasure, and talent to those organizations.
2. Reach out to foster care agencies or anyone you know in the foster care system and see how you can best support them. Studies show that one meaningful, consistent connection with a caring adult can make all the difference.
3. Don’t lose hope, and don’t give up.
Foster youth are unique and amazing; they should feel as though they are worthy and that they belong. For we are knitted in the fabric of American culture and known for our resiliency, gifts, and courage. There are so many questions and uncertainties about Roe v. Wade being overturned, but it’s more important that we decide to support foster youth the best we can given the cards we have been dealt. Let’s be a community of change and see to it that every foster youth is cared for by this country that has long since turned its back on us.