NATIONAL FOSTER CARE MONTH…Parents, share special kind of love
May is National Foster Care Month. There are about 500,000 children in foster care in the United States, with African-American children estimated to comprise 31 percent of them. According to a June 2009 Nevada Statewide Assessment for the Division of Child and Family Services, “There is a disproportionate number (23 percent) of African-American children in the foster care system in Nevada.”
Children are typically placed in the foster care system temporarily — 16 months or more — due to abuse or neglect by their parents. Most of the people who become foster parents are silent heroes and sheroes who aren’t seeking adulation; instead, they take satisfaction in making a positive impact on a child’s life.
Robert Brooks, 47, is a single foster father who believes he is fulfilling a calling. “God put me here for a reason,” he said. “I was invited by a friend to visit a group home once, and I sat in on a family session with those in the house. This stirred my interest in foster care because I thought to myself, ‘I, too, can help a lot of children,’ and everything just clicked.
I have six foster children from the ages of 8 to 19 years of age, who are all young men. My guys are the young children nobody else wanted. I have had up to eight children in my home, but they have since moved on as adults. I am proud that all of my older children graduated from high school and received their diplomas. Education is very important to me.”
“I stay involved with my guys and tell them every day I love them” said Brooks. “The older ones help out with the younger ones, and I call them my leaders.”
One of Nevada’s sheroes, 41-year-old Roshawn Roberson, is a foster mother of seven children — three boys and four girls, ranging in age from 9 to 16 — and is in the process of adopting three of them. She was first compelled take in foster children when she lived in Northern California as a single mother with one biological child.
“My child always had a lot of friends while she was growing up, and I was amazed by how many children who came to my home never received a home-cooked meal at their own homes,” said Roberson. “My home was the neighborhood home where many of the children would eat and spend their weekends. I was called ‘mom’ by many of the children.”
Roberson then moved to Las Vegas — where her mother also resides — but the routine of children coming to her home for meals and support persisted.
“I remember one young girl who was always at my home playing with my little girl. I would feed her and she would stay over for the weekends. The weekends turned to weekdays and I was surprised that her mother never came by or called to meet me,” said Roberson. “One day I was in Walmart shopping with my daughter and I heard someone say, ‘Hi, mom.’ I looked and it was the little girl asking me to come meet her mother on the other aisle. I was excited because I hadn’t up until now been invited to meet her mom. When I came up to her mother to meet her I said, ‘Hello’ and introduced myself. The little girl’s mother was looking at a store item and mumbled, ‘Oh, hi,’ without even looking up at me. That hit me really hard because I had been taking care of her child for weeks and she didn’t care to really know who I was. I then knew that a lot of children out here needed help. This is what made me want to go for it.”
In tough economic times, Roberson says she still finds many ways to have fun with a large family. “Every Sunday we go to church and we come home and we all make dinner together and clean up together,” she said. “We take long walks after dinner and sometimes go to Red Rock for a family picnic. We watch movies together at home and play board games as a family. It doesn’t take a lot of money to have a great time with your children.”
Brooks and Roberson are affilliated with A Brighter Day Children Services, a division of Agape Children’s Services. For more information, contact Gerald Robinson at 702-739-7716.