This I Believe

Mary Ellen - Ashland, Oregon
Entered on October 17, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: children
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

If you’ve ever felt the call, even in a whisper- you should respond, if just for that one opportunity- one time… this I believe. If you are listening to this narrative or wonder as you watch the news report- who’s home that abandoned baby will end up in and you ask yourself “should it be my home?”- I beg you to consider being a foster parent. I believe with all of my heart that if every person who had the nagging feeling that they could be providing a family for the little ones among us who find themselves without their family, this country… this world would be a better place. I’ve done it, it’s not easy and it may even break your heart, but in this instance the old cliché holds true “it is a million times better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” I knew the time was right for me when I realized that being foster parent was a gift I would be giving to myself, my family and the child in need of a temporary home.

Beginning can take the form of starting out as a respite family for a local foster family… who need and deserve time away from the awesome responsibility of foster care. Respite is vital for a full time foster parent and a way for a respite provider to fully appreciate the paperwork rigueur, the rigueur of the background check (luckily in place to keep our children safe), and the reality (albeit for only 24 or 48 hours at a time) of being the responsible adult in charge of a child in a temporary family. I’ve done both. I adopted my last foster child- he is the light of my life and the reason why I will probably not do foster care again until he is in his twenty’s. There are definitely better times than not to be a foster parent when looking at the landscape of one’s life. But this I believe, if every person who ever felt the tug on their heart and in their gut to open their family for a weekend or a year to a child without their family, those children would grow up having known safety and love- if even for short period of time- and those same children who we so often refer to as ‘youth at risk’ while in their teens would have something distinctive in their arsenal as they enter adulthood, they’d have you…perhaps as a memory, perhaps as an on-going relationship. If all the folks who ever considered it- stepped up to the plate for just one child at a time, even just once- the world; our future; would be that much safer and that much happier… This I believe…