We are in the midst of the holiday season. In my adult years, as the holidays approach, I have tended to think, “Here we go again. What’s the big deal?”
Now that I have kids, I am reminded how magical the holidays are for children. Christmas trees, lights, Santa, and oh, the gifts… It all makes them so very giddy.
For too many kids, the holidays aren’t so magical. None of the above will materialize, or if it does it’s only thanks to the goodwill of the community that regularly plunks coins in Salvation Army buckets and toys in Toys for Tots bins.
Everywhere in our own community, kids are in need. For many the needs are a winter coat, warm socks, a hot meal, maybe even a home. But there are many kids in need of more: they need a family.
There are 8,000 kids in foster care in Oregon. These kids have no one to turn to because for whatever reason – mental health issues, drug and alcohol addiction, incarceration, illness, death – their parents aren’t around. And there’s no one else to step into that important role.
Fortunately, many kids have other loving people in their lives able to step into the role of parent. Maybe they have a grandparent, a stepparent or a close friend in their lives that give them the care they need.
Sometimes the need is temporary. Grandma can become the legal guardian of her grandchild, allowing her to have custody, obtain medical care and generally take care of him as if she were his parent, until his parents regain their ability to act as primary caregivers.
Other times the need is permanent. Maybe the birth father was never in the picture, or the birth mother has passed away. Where the other parent has remarried, the stepparent can step into the role by adopting the child.
This holiday season, I encourage you to keep plunking those coins in those buckets and go out and buy a toy to donate. If you are concerned about kids in need in our community, get involved. Consider fostering a child or offering respite services for foster parents. Volunteer with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) or donate to one of the many worthy organizations providing services to children in our valley.
And if you have a child in your life that needs a parent, consider stepping into that role. Families come in all shapes, sizes and configurations, from traditional to nontraditional. Whatever it looks like, kids don’t care. They just need a family to love them.
Sarah Vaile is an associate attorney with Robert W. Good, Attorney, LLC, and has been practicing law in Oregon for eight years, the last three-and-a-half with Robert (Bob) Good. Contact her at the Ashland office at (541) 482-3763.
823 Siskiyou Blvd.