A Heartfelt Letter from Let It Be Us Founding Board Member Bob Noonan, Father and Foster Parent, About the Condition of Foster Care and Adoption in Illinois
- May 13, 2015
As a foster dad, I was more than happy to join the board of Let It Be Us and become one of the early participants in the mission of helping children within the foster care system. It has been a great opportunity and personally a rewarding experience for me to get involved in the work that our organization has launched.
All kids are gifts from GOD really, with a foster child being no different; they all deserve a loving family that helps them mature with the foundational support through life’s ups and downs. Try and imagine what it would be like to have no permanent family, no structured love – especially as a child. Or to be moved around from one home and school to another – the sad fact is a foster kid who remains in the system until they are 18 has lived in, on average, 30 different homes! Something is wrong with that. How does a child develop confidence in themselves and life in general by being bounced around so much in new schools, trying to make new friends and having no real family to count on and look up to? The sad fact that only 3% of these foster kids graduate from college is a telling one. They need guidance and family love on a permanent basis.
Many of the foster children just seem to have been dealt a bad hand when it comes to being raised in a loving permanent family. I am a strong believer that building a child’s character is formed and molded in a solid family upbringing driven with unconditional love and guidance. I am one of eleven children – seven out of 11 – and know this 1st hand. I also have learned that you can very easily give and receive love from a child that’s not your blood, as my wife and I have been blessed to discover. We have to do something for these foster children as the state and federal government are not focused on seeing children receive the unconditional love a child needs and frankly deserves! They seem to be more focused on the legal rights of the parents and not what’s best for society’s children. Let It Be Us will try and change this for the better. We need your help to step up and become one of the US!
I’d like to share a little history on how I became a foster parent. My wife, Wendy, and I didn’t start out to become foster parents – we were blessed in having 3 children of our own, but did become aware of many local children in the area that needed some family help. When our kids were in high school and college we joined a program called Safe Families. Safe Families is a wonderful program to help keep children that are in a family crisis safe. The main goal is to keep kids off the streets and out of shelters and place them with willing families on a temporary basis. The ultimate goal is to reunite them back with their biological parents (sadly, many times it’s usually just a single mother.) Safe Families works in conjunction with the state’s DCFS in trying to avoid having children screened into becoming a ward of the state in the foster care system. We took several children in as a Safe Family over the years with goal of planting a seed of love and to try and build character into a child – hopefully helping in offering a better chance in life. In one case we took in a 4 month year boy that was supposed to be a 90 day placement… well, we still have him and he is over 4 years old. We also took in his younger brother right after he was born (from the hospital) – he is 3 years old. Safe Families is designed to have a maximize timeline of one year for hosting a child on a temporary placement and then the state steps in. Well, in this case there were some complications and the children were screened into DCFS. We became DCFS certified foster parents to keep the boys and are very glad we did. Needless to say these two boys have become part of the family and we hope to stay a part of their lives forever – the current goal of the state is to return them home to their parents, so these two boys are not currently eligible for adoption as their case makes its way through the Illinois legal system…. 3+ years and counting – is that even fair to these kids?
My personal goal is to help the Let It Be Us organization become the “go to” organization for people looking to adopt children and that we are successful in bridging the gap between the supply of foster children and the demand of loving families. We need to raise the public awareness that this is happening right in our backyards. We need families that can step up, adopt and take these kids into their homes as the final home they move to. I also hope that we are able to raise enough funds to really make a different in these kids’ lives and grow this cause to a national level. We, as a society, all need to step up and fix the broken foster care system that currently exists. I also hope we can recruit more foster families that step up and give the love that these children deserve and stop the crazy bouncing from home to home. We need loving families wiling to adopt and/or become foster families that are willing to raise children with unconditional love and are willing to go through the ups and downs of raising a child and not call the state to have them moved to another family over issues as they arise. The same issues all parents face in raising children.
Please step up in any way you can and become one of US!!!
Donate, volunteer, or drive your company to help fund Let It Be Us in the mission God has planted in our collective team.
Father and Foster Parent
Founding Board Member of Let It Be Us