Yesterday Jack came with me to the church office and was playing while I worked. While there, a young girl (with no shoes) came to the church and asked if she could use our phone. She had just spent the night in County, was released (sans shoes), and walked a mile down County Farm Rd.until she got to our church. Her ride hadn't showed up, and she lives 10 miles away.
She called her friend, and while she waited, I got her a bottle of water and we chatted. Turns out she is 23 with 4 children, ages 7 months to 6 years old. None of the babies' daddys are supporting her or the children. She was picked up by the cops because her brother accused her of being too rough with one of his kids. She spend the night in jail, and was released on her own recognizance--with a court date sometime in the future.
Honestly, she was as sweet and polite as could be. She never asked for money (and I probably would have given her some), and she kept thanking me for use of the phone. I encouraged her as much as I could, because as I told her, those babies need her. Jack and I prayed with her, and then her ride showed up.
After she left, Jack had a lot of questions. He asked if she had been outside all night. So I explained she had actually spent the night in jail, and his eyes got as big as saucers. This girl definitely did not look like someone he imagined being in jail. Then Jack wanted to know why, so I explained that someone said she'd been too rough with a kid. Again, shock on Jack's part. You can go to jail for being too rough with a kid?! It seemed like a good teaching moment, so I talked to him about some of the foster kids we know. "You know kids who don't live with their 'real' mom and dads? Sometimes it's because their parents made bad choices. Some of the moms and dads were too rough with them. Maybe they hit them too hard. So the police said those kids can't live with their parents. They put them with foster parents, like _____ [who we know]. And they give the 'real' moms and dads a second chance to start making good decisions."
Jack's eyes well up with tears. "Will those kids go back to their 'real' parents? he asked.
"We don't know. Some will, if their parents show they can be good moms and dads. But if they don't, the kids will stay with the foster parents, and they might get adopted by them."
At this point Jack stared at the floor, biting his lip and trying not to cry. I asked him what was wrong, and he said, "I'm just so sad for my [foster care] friends."
Me, too, Jack. Me, too.