15 Year Old, Sam’s Story
When children are put into the foster care system, they generally come with nothing more than the clothes on their back. No bags, toys, outfits, snacks, or anything else from their previous home. To children that come with nothing, a simple bag to put their things in is like having a space that is your own, that you can fill with whatever you like. My Bag My Story is instrumental in giving foster children something to call their own. When you come with nothing, it feels huge to have something all to yourself to keep your things in. Instead of borrowing from the foster family, or sharing with other foster children, it is an item that you possess, that is yours. It allows for you to take your things and give them a home.
When we took the two children places, even on short trips, we had to get bags for them so they would have somewhere to put their things. Along with this, we learned that when foster children first come to families, many of them are undernourished and all of them are terrified. They have been taken from their family, home, and at that age, their whole world. All of them have to come into a strange home with different smells, toys, and rules, on top of the fact that they are now living with complete strangers that they have never even seen before.
Keeping this in mind at Target, we bought numerous outfits and pjs for an 8 month old boy and an almost-two-year-old girl. We tried to pick different sizes because we didn’t know how big or small they were going to be for their age, understanding that we would be supplying their entire wardrobe. With this, we left Target and came home, only to find a very small 8 month old and the largest almost-two-year-old we had ever seen. As it turned out, she wasn’t two at all. She was almost four, and all the documents were off by two years. Like we had suspected, they had absolutely nothing other than what they were wearing. This meant that everything we had just bought was too small for her, and she ended up wearing my sister’s very smallest pair of clothes that night while we washed the ones she had on. The next day, we went back to the store and re-bought everything, except this time in two sizes bigger. That was the first day of almost a year that we got to care for those two children, and their story is only one of many just like that.
Additionally, once children are in the foster system, there are generally three options for them: they can stay in that foster home forever, they can return to their birth parents, or they can move into a pre-adoptive home. In many cases, the children will not stay in just one spot, and instead will move to different foster homes several times. In these scenarios, a bag is something that they can carry and keep, something of their own. It makes moving a lot easier if you have something of yours, something no one can take away, and My Bag My Story does a great job of making that possible.