Mother’s Day & Foster Care Awareness Month? (Mom? Where are you?)
Danny Vann, FFTS
It’s ironic that for over 460,000 youth currently in Foster Care, and countless millions of alumni from the Foster Care System, Mother’s Day is a painful reminder that there is a hole in their heart where a loving mom’s warm embrace was supposed to be.
If YOU cannot embrace your own mom this Mother’s Day due to COVID-19, then you have a “small inkling” of what many of us have long felt for years — some for an entire lifetime. If you’re from a loving family home, at least YOU can call or video-chat with your mom. You can even look forward to getting vaccinated and FINALLY being able to hug your mom again when this pandemic is over.
Unfortunately, the “Foster Care Pandemic” is NEVER OVER for millions of youth ripped from their homes, never to see, or hear, from their mothers again.
The latest statistics from Anne E. Casey’s kidscount.org report1 states that over 6% of American children were not living with either parent in 2019. That’s over 4-MILLION kids! Did you know that the Foster Care System also includes “kinship care” where children live with relatives or close family friends? No matter where they are on Mother’s Day, over 4 million kids are NOT HOME WITH THEIR MOMS! Their lives have been permanently tainted by the trauma of losing everything they know — their home, their friends, their school, and most of all their parents and family.
Unfortunately, many of them may have been removed due to abuse, neglect, or some other traumatic event that has left them longing for the comfort of a loving hug or gentle caress as the cry themselves to sleep every night. They will suffer from these events for rest of their lives — through no fault of their own. When you stop to think about it, it’s no wonder so many of them act out and seem to be a “problem child” in settings with other “normal” children. As one of them, I often felt awkward and out of place in classes and other events where most kids had their parents’ support and involvement. Even being in a Foster Home didn’t totally restore a comfortable or confident feeling as I was still the new kid in school and had to explain where I came from, and why my “parents” (foster parents) had a different last name from mine. That ongoing trauma of not belonging — or not being normal — never really goes away. There is that sinking feeling that you could be whisked away again at any time. You wonder if you can really trust the new people in your life.
As you can well imagine, when special events and holidays roll around every year, instead of joy and gratefulness, it causes dread and pain to resurface because the so-called normal celebrations are anything but normal for the victims of broken homes and abusive family origins.
There is some good news in all of this: My foster mom was awesome. She was so patient and listened to me share my stories whenever I needed to talk. She was a saint. I went back years later and thanked her personally. Through the years, after I emancipated out at 17, there were many good-hearted people, “moms” and mentors that came into my life and helped me through the rough spots. I was able to re-connect with, and eventually forgive, both of my parents. Years in therapy helped to reprogram my expectations and heal the wounds. Now I’m trying to help others move along their path to forgiveness.
Exciting news! Pre-Order Danny’s NEW book:
“From Chaos to Forgiveness” on Amazon starting June 1st!
If you would like to help some of these traumatized victims, reach out online to some Foster Care support groups. Donate to a local Foster Closet. Call your local Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or local Foster Care Agency and volunteer to relieve some foster parents by taking the kids in their care for a daytime or weekend excursion (called Respite Care) — or IF YOU REALLY WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE — consider becoming a foster parent.
Visit my website at DannyVann.com for support articles for you and the kiddos or contact Dr. John DeGarmo at the Foster Care Institute to learn more about how to become a foster parent or improve your skills as a foster parent.
P.S. For all you foster parents out there — THANK-YOU and Happy “Mother’s Day” to you for stepping in and providing HOPE and safety for the kids! Don’t be discouraged if your foster child is not excited about Mother’s Day. Give them some space and all the love you can — some wounds take time to heal.
Danny Vann was born in 1953 the oldest of six kids, Danny Vann has faced many challenges in his life. As a foster care & trauma survivor, he is a prime example of how to overcome life’s obstacles. He has been inspiring and motivating people for decades through his professional music, corporate leadership and church fellowship roles. After open heart surgery in 1998 and a heart attack 15 years later, he studied and became an ordained minister.
He is a Youth Mentor, Advocate, Songwriter, Recording Artist and the Author of My Journey in the Shadow of “The King” — A story of hope and resilience…the discovery of a cherished life. See it here. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or his website DannyVann.com or on Facebook at: DannyVannFormerFosterTS
Danny Vann, FFTS
Former Foster — Trauma Survivor