Over the past year, we've been sharing heart warming stories of triumph and success through the foster-adoption program in El Paso County in our "Tuesday's Child" segment - which airs on News 5 at six on Tuesday nights. The local child placement agency "Hope & Home" has worked hand-in-hand with us to try and shed a positive light on foster care and the difference it makes in the lives of children in need. News 5 anchor, Shellene Cockrell, looks at why our Tuesday's Child segment exists... and at the special place called "Hope & Home."
"When a kid has been taken away from their parents and they've been abused and they've been neglected - they've lost their home and a lot of times they've lost hope. There's nothing worse than a kid who's lost hope. That's the breaking point," says Ross Wright, Executive Director of Hope & Home. And that's when foster parents need to step in. "Somebody has to wrap their arms around that kid and say, 'It's gonna be okay.' And that can't be the government. That's gotta be a mom or a dad or someone that's going to love them and they know they're going to be safe," adds Wright.
When foster parent Tara Wehner was asked what would happen to these kids if someone like her didn't get involved in the system, she said, "There's no hope for them. I don't know where they would be."
"I think we forget that there are kids who don't have homes," Wright says. "I think we forget that orphanages went away in the United States but orphans didn't, they just changed names. We now call them foster children, but really they're the invisible orphans of our society." And there are literally thousands of them... in group homes and in institutions around the country. The lucky ones are in foster care. Wehner says, "When you get a placement it is your mission, it is your responsibility - it's family. To bring them in and just love 'em like they're yours."
News 5 wanted to highlight positive foster-adoption stories in our Tuesday's Child segments to try and get people interested... and to inspire them to step-up and get involved. Wehner agrees, "It is an awareness. And it does bring it to the community. For people to know that we're here and know what we do. A lot of people don't know."
Wright also sees how the segments can make a difference. "The Tuesday's Child segment shows all the joy and all the excitement of seeing a child get a forever home. The Tuesday's Child segment shows kids and families succeeding. It shows the bright side, it shows the joy, it shows the happiness. It shows the transition that happens in kids lives. That's what really happens in foster care. That's the hidden story."
Seeing those positives has increased the number of people calling and wanting to get involved and help... and Hope & Home's "missional model" is ideal for those who truly want to change the lives of children. "When I think of Hope&Home, support comes to mind. Love. Family - they've been our family throughout this whole process. Anything we've needed they've shown up at our front door ready to provide for us," says foster parent Jill Lewis.
The most important thing they want to provide foster children, though, all goes back to the name: "They've gotta have hope - they have to have hope. And we don't want to give em a house, we don't give em an institution - give em a home," Wright says, "And you might do it for one day, you might do it for one week... some of our foster parents do it for life, but every time we do it it makes a difference in that child's life - and that's the most important thing to remember."
It's also important not to forget there are children every single day that need it. "It doesn't go away. It doesn't go away. Children need homes. Our world is very broken and we all have front doors... let's open 'em up," says Lewis.
If you're interested in welcoming a child into your home, you can call Hope & Home directly at (719) 575-9887 for more information... or you can go to http://www.FosterColoradoKids.org to find out more.