On the ride into school the other day, my 4-year-old son asked me, “Mommy, are Superheroes real?” I thought a little bit before responding and came up with, “Yes buddy, real life superheroes indeed are real. Real Life Superheroes are people who give kindness to those who need it.” (This response seemed to satisfy him, thank goodness!)
My son’s little question caused my ride into work that day to be filled with thoughts about the real life superheroes I have the pleasure to either know or just hear about through my job as a foster care licensing and placement supervisor. I see people becoming real life superheroes pretty much everyday.
- It’s the foster family licensed specifically to take infants who agrees to take both a 3-year-old girl AND her 15-year-old brother on an emergency basis so that the siblings can remain together.
- It’s the newly licensed foster mother who answers her phone in the middle of the night and groggily says “yes” to taking in a child we hardly know anything about.
- It’s the school social worker who decides to take in a sibling group before becoming licensed (therefore, without compensation), because she believes so strongly in them needing to be together and with someone familiar.
- It’s the foster parents who hang in there when the child they are caring for becomes extremely disruptive — being aggressive with them and their pets, stealing and lying. Instead of asking for the child to be moved, they seek additional support and assistance to better understand the child and learn what they can do differently in order to help the child.
- It’s the foster parents who work so well with the birth parents during a transition for the children by allowing regular phone contact, providing transportation to and from visits, and continuing to be a respite resource for the family after reunification; all of this helping the children to feel safe and loved during an often confusing time.
- It’s the relative caregivers, who, after having the relative children in their home reunified, opened their home and hearts to additional foster children, saying “yes” twice in a matter of weeks to children needing emergency placement.
- It’s the foster parent who had asked to only be open for non-emergency placements of children under 5-years-old but ends up saying yes to three pre-teen sisters needing emergency placement.
Foster parents reading this, YOU ARE superheroes! I salute you and the tremendous sacrifices you often make to give much needed kindness to the children we call you to take in.
In addition to the foster families I see who regularly do heroic acts, I’ve also witnessed child welfare workers becoming real life superheroes, going above and beyond because of how much they care.
- It’s the ongoing case manager who entertains two boys in the office and advocates strongly for them to remain together even though it means she works much later into the night until a home can be found.
- It’s the licensing specialist who holds her foster parent’s hand though the roller coaster of parenting traumatized children and goes above and beyond to ensure the families she serves are guided safely through the storm.
- It’s the initial assessment social worker whose heart is still so open to those in need that when she sees a family dealing with a crisis and lacking basic necessities she reaches out to her own circle of friends and family to ensure this family receives kindness and the items that they need to get them through.
- It’s the intensive in-home case manager who quickly brings together a family’s supports during a single mother’s mental health crisis, finding her six children a safe place to reside and making a potentially traumatic situation much less so for her children.
- It’s the Residential worker who was called with no notice to share information about a child on his residential unit with a group of foster parents. He spoke so positively and with such authenticity about the child’s strengths in spite of his behavioral challenges that many in the room had tears in their eyes, inspired by what the worker shared.
Child welfare workers reading this, YOU ARE superheroes! Despite often seeing individuals in challenging and disheartening situations, you continue to have faith in humanity and create hope for positive and sustainable change.
These are just a few of the real life superheroes I’ve heard about in the past few months. Often it’s so easy to forget to celebrate the successes and recognize when people have stepped outside of themselves to help others, but these kinds of heroic acts happen each and every day.
Please take a moment and tell us your story about a real life superhero you know!
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