October 27, 2016
I have a new friend since we began fostering. I played mom to her son for one year, two months, and four days. Some might say this was because she did something wrong or that it was so that something good could come of it, while others might say it was because she was treated wrongly by a broken system. When you get close to foster care, you begin to notice things: racism, poverty, and social injustice just to name a few. I noticed the doctor who called for surgery for the dark-skinned foster baby who didn’t need it, so I got a second opinion. I noticed the social worker who called for foster placement when she found out my friend was being evicted from her apartment. Months later, while reading the book Let Justice Roll Down by John M. Perkins, I noticed that I was thankful that Oklahoma has a program to help my friend with her groceries, because what Perkins said is so true: “No person… that has achieved middle or upper-class status, has ever REALLY done it on their own.”
My friend is unique in many ways and is a perfect example of something gone terribly wrong. And, because of knowing her, Nathan was able to stand on the floor of the House of Representatives with the members of our state legislature, and tell them how the laws in place hinder those who have made mistakes, restraining them from ever pulling out and getting ahead. Once you are labeled, you cannot get affordable housing, apply for financial aid for school, or work at certain places, but you WILL have court fees, officers of the court who may or may not help you but whom you still have to pay, and classes the court requires you to take… all of which makes it very difficult to ever get ahead. One afternoon, while driving from one corner of town to another in search of resources, my friend said to me, “I used to think that if you got into trouble, you just did what you were supposed to do and things worked out, but they make it so difficult and costly to do anything, that you almost have to turn to a life of crime just to get by.” There was nothing I could say, and when I hear her story, I realize that it could just as easily be mine if I were dealt with the same circumstances in life. It makes me sick. Caring for her baby was a privilege, and now I get to consider her in my “silk of friendships,” but because she lost over a year with her sweet son, I am also part of “the burlap of pains” in her life.