When I was a caseworker I was often asked why I did what I did. How could I stand to see the pain and sorrow of small children on a daily basis? How could I see the struggling parents trying to do the best they could, even when the best they had to offer was not safe enough?

When others saw tornadoes, I saw stars. I was not alone. I was not special. There were many who came before me and many who came after me. This blog is not about me but about the global need for tolerance and understanding in a world of tornadoes.

I never could articulate an answer that seemed to satisfy the question. I can only tell you, if you listen close enough, the answer is in the tornado.

There is much pain in the life of a foster child. There is pain caused by the abuse. There is pain caused by the fact that the abuse is at the hands of someone who they love and by someone who is supposed to love them. And, if we are all honest, there is pain caused by the system that is trying to keep them safe.

Today as we begin to move our focus towards the celebration of independence and freedom, I want to challenge you to not forget those who are not free. Those who might not be fighting on the battlefields, but certainly fighting to stay alive…fighting to find peace…fighting to find safety.

I ask that you find it in your heart to find tolerance. To find compassion. Many of you are saying, “Of course!” “Of course I will give peace to an abused child.” “Of course I will not add to the pain of an abused child by denying compassion, empathy and acceptance.”

Remember that these children are sometimes in the whirl of the tornado. You will not see the child begging for help (at least not every time).

They may be the child who is throwing a tantrum. They may be the aggressive child. He may be the child constantly standing outside the principal’s office because he just can’t keep it together. It will not always be the child saying thank you, but might be the child telling you to go jump in the lake — using much more creative language than I choose to use here.

We cannot begin to understand the life of a foster child unless that is a life we have lived ourselves.

I am sharing a video. It is part two. I shared part one when it came out. Take the time to hear her story. It could help you to really make a difference in the life of a child. If you are a professional in the field, watch it all.

Remind yourself of the breathtaking job you have undertaken. Look for the stars.

Video Link

Removed ScreenshotClick Here For Video


3 thoughts on “Foster Children: The stars in the tornadoes”

  1. Tammi, thanks so much for this beautiful post and for your dedication to helping abused children. Back in the 50’s and 60’s when I was suffering childhood sexual abuse, help from social services wasn’t available, there were no counselors in schools unless it was to fix a class schedule. In elementary school, when I cried every day and I was unable to interact with other children, the teachers told me that no one would like me if I didn’t stop all my crying; I stopped crying and learned to carry my secrets even deeper. How I wish there would have been people like you around back then. I’m grateful I am at a place now that I, too, can advocate for the abuse. The video is very powerful.

    1. Thank you Mandy! I am so thankful that we are learning to reach out to hurting children even when we don’t know the whys of the hurting. I am so thankful because of people like you who are unafraid to talk about their experience and how they were treated and the impact of that treatment on their lives that we are able to learn even more about trauma and the behavioral clues of trauma. I have been doing this work for a long time and what I can honestly say is that I am still learning because I am still listening. Children have so much to say if we only listen. Thank you for reaching out to me —it helps to remind me what we do is important. It helps to remind me that we never know how our actions impact other people and that we need to be mindful of the secrets that may be hidden yet untold. I am thankful for you Mandy.


      1. Your response means so much, Tammi. It makes what I do now, advocating for abused children, worth it. You make the knowledge real to me that people in your line of work care deeply for the kids. so I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

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