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After reading through many a post on children I find myself in the position of wanting to share. I don't usually choose to do so on this subject, but I guess it is time to speak out.

To the person who started all of this soul searching, thankyou. I think you reminded many of us to look beyond todays bills and remember why we made the choices we made.

You see, I am not only the mother of two natural children, I have been the foster mother of over 100 children who have committed every crime known to mankind, and a few others. These children have lived in my home over the past 15 years. I also have several degrees behind my name in the fields of psychology and social work. I married later in life, and did not have children until I was thirty. I have seen life before parenting and after parenting on a first hand basis. I have also seen parenting from the over 100 children and thier families that came to my home. As well as several hundred, (or is it thousand now) who came through the shelter home I founded and ran. When it comes to this subject I have earned my right to say, been there, done that, have the tshirt, and am a card carrying member.

Here are some of the lessons I have learned from all the children I have held in my arms. Things that they said to me, and wanted so much to say to their own parents.

1) I wish you would never have had me.
I can not tell you how many children have sobbed those words in my arms. If you aren't committed 100% to the child you are thinking of having, walk away. Don't do it. The last thing any child needs is a parent who isn't sure.

2) Poverty, bills, lack of money, none of these is ever a reason to walk away from a child. I saw it happen over and over. The kid will be better off with someone who is there, no matter what. The hardest thing many of these children had to face was the fact that they were totally alone in this world. Believe me, I have the tear stained shirts to prove it.

3) Divorce is hard on kids. No, I don't advocate for people to stay together for the kids. But the truth is the truth, and the truth is in the shelter home that we established, at the end of a 10 year study, 97% of the kids came from broken homes. Say whatever you want, but face the truth, divorce impacts kids. Some parent find a way to make a divorce amicable, and that is much better than the fighting and bickering we watched over the years. Adults who could not see beyond thier own pain to help their children with theirs. You can justify the dissolution of a marriage any way you want to, but the truth remains. Having two parents who are stable and care about them is the number one factor in kids staying out of trouble with the law, the next factor would be one parent who is stable and caring, either works.

4) Being a foster mother was the greatest gift I ever gave my two natural children. My son is a straight A student, and what they call a natural helper. Every year I go to all the teacher conferences, and over and over I hear about how wonderful and helpfull my son is. He learned by example. He learned compassion when he was 4 and we took an eight year old boy in our home who came with the clothes on his back. My sons clothes fit him, so he shared until we could get to the store. To this day that boy calls and talks to his 'brother', my son.

5) Being a stay at home mom is not the answer, in and of itself. I saw way too many kids with moms who did not work. No father in the home, and the mother did not work. That scenario fit the majority of the kids that I saw. The mother being at home was not the answer. The mother being a healthy growing person was much more important. Sure I saw some kids whose moms worked. Can't remember a one of the working moms not being an alcoholic or a drug user though. Never saw a hard working mom, divorced or not, come through the doors with thier kids. It wasn't the work folks, it was that C word again. Commitment. If the parent was commited to the kid we never saw them at our level. Divorced parent take heart, working mothers take heart, I never saw your kids as long as you were were committed to them after work. The kids always knew.

6) Relatives. Rarely saw them. No grandparents, no aunts or uncles who would get involved. Everyone was too busy for these kids. Yes, they are often called throw away kids. Many of them you now get to pay for them via homeless shelters. They never had real homes, and they don't know how to live in them. It was the rare child who had a relative step forward and say let me help. I will never forget the uncle who showed up once and said what can I do? His simple taking the child out to eat, see a movie and have him over to his house once a week for games was by far the best medicine or therapy that child ever got. It changed his life. That man gave that child hope, and something to live for. He is in college now, and doing well.

7) You wonder about the 3% of kids who came from two parent families? ( hey this is the fools board, I knew you would remember that). Every one of them was a family incest case. Either the father or the mother was sexually abusing the children, and that was why they were removed.

Folks, if you read this far, you might wonder why someone who has seen so much trauma and abuse in this world, someone who has seen what children are capable of doing to themselves and others, why she would have children of her own. Simple really. I choose to. I committed myself to bearing and raising my children. Just like I committed myself to my career earlier in my life, and my marriage now. If you are committed to it, you will find a way to it. Whether it is paying off your debt, LBYM, or raising your kids correctly.

My daughters teacher this year pulled me aside and said I just have to tell you, your daughter is the kindest, most helpfull child I have had in my class in twenty years of teaching. I beamed from ear to ear. I have heard that from several teachers over the years for both of my children. My daughter can tell you about the time we brought an infant crack baby in our home for a few months, with her mother. She remembers me teaching the mother and her how to diaper the baby. She was five. Today she asks about the baby. It is hard to tell her that the mother went back to the drugs and left the baby alone, and she died. My daughter does not have to be told about caring, she watched, and she learned. And she is a better person for it. They also do sports, are straight A students, and are even learning to set up their own portfolios on the Fool! You bet I am proud of them, and I never wish I had not had them. Even when my thirtten year old son is being thirteen! He also is headed to mexico later this summer, to help build houses for the homeless. While preparing for the trip, the leaders had a homeless night. They had all the teens who were going make shelters out of boxes and sleep in them for the night. My son came home and said mom, it was silly. Why didn't we go to the local homeless shelter and serve meals? Why didn't we go sleep with the homeless? I had to laugh and remind him that though he has been to the missions to help, and he has known homeless people, even helped them get thier stuff off the riverbank where they were staying and move into our house, the other childrens parents think that those things are too dangerous. My son shook his head, and said, mom, don't they know how many of them are kids and that they need to love them? I smiled, hugged him, and said I am proud of you son.

I was committed then, and I am even more commited to them now. Go ahead, do your research, but don't you dare have children if you don't plan on loving them through it all, and being there for them, no matter what. Thats what a choice is, a commitment.
If you have that, you have it all. Just ask my kids, after I go in and hug them again.

Pam, who is going to get off her soapbox now.

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