Birthdays are such a special celebration of life – another year of lessons, successes, failures, opportunities, dreams and aspirations. I find myself always feeling so emotional. I’ve been given another year of healthy and happy children and walls filled with laughter and love.
As we prepared for Gray’s 2nd birthday party, I found myself thinking about how I really did not want gifts cluttering my home that we didn’t need. My children have more gifts and toys than they could ever want or need. As a social worker, I aim to teach my children the importance of helping others and being thankful. So, instead of accepting gifts we asked that our guests bring a gift for a 10 year old boy. He would be celebrating his birthday with only his social worker in a residential treatment facility in Virginia.
What is Worthdays?
Worthdays was started by a fellow social worker and friend of mine. Worthdays believes that one of the most universal needs of all children and youth is to feel wanted and worthy. Worthdays aims to do this for children in foster care in Virginia who are often ignored and forgotten.
There are many children across the world, the United States, and in the Commonwealth of Virginia, that have birthdays that come and go and are not celebrated. Children may find themselves celebrating a birthday in a non-relative foster placement, independent living facility, group home or residential facility. They likely will have no party, no gifts, and no one who is excited to share in their special day, and who is separated from family and loved ones because of the actions or behaviors of adults in their life.
Foster Care in Virginia
As of April 1, 2018 there are 5,271 children in foster care in Virginia. 836 of those children, are between the ages of 1-3 like my Gray and 640 between ages of 4-6 like my Palmer. 13% of those children have been in 6 or more placements. 49% of these children are in foster care due to neglect, 27% due to parental substance abuse and 15% due to physical abuse. (Department of Social Services, 2018).
In recent years, Virginia has ranked as the state with the highest percentage of children aging out of foster care without permanency. This means that during their time in foster care the system was unable to safely reunify them with their parents or family members and was unable to place them with an adoptive family.
How can you get involved?
If you are interested in celebrating the birthdays of children in foster care and making an impact in our Commonwealth, please check out Instagram and Facebook for future box needs. Grab a group of friends, your child’s sports team or club, your colleagues, or family and sponsor a box.
Most importantly – Happy 2nd birthday dear Gray. I love you more than you will ever know. Being your mom these past 2 years and watching you and your brother grow up brings me more joy than you will ever know. The sky is the limit buddy – thank you for letting me be your mama.