Children need families – but they also need community. And so do we.

When I recount the number of people who have had a great influence on my life, it nearly brings me to tears. I was blessed with dozens of role models and mentors who encouraged me throughout my childhood and adolescence. A handful were family members, but most of them were outsiders—teachers, friends, and even employers—who helped shaped me into the opinionated, confident, sometimes insufferable woman I am today.

As a child, I was surrounded by a church community, and in high school I found a community of my own—the drama geeks. In both, I encountered trusted adults who were different from my parents. They offered me access to viewpoints, life experiences, and advice that Mom and Dad could not provide. Those respected guides taught me that the world was infinitely bigger than I had imagined and that the fences on either side of the narrow path I thought lay before me were only imaginary.

Role Models and Mentors

We know displaced children have experienced trauma and that their parents have not provided a stable environment in which they could thrive, but what we often forget is that these kids—our kids—have likely not had any positive role models or mentors in their lives outside of school. Every child needs someone to love them unconditionally and encourage them. While foster and adoptive parent-child relationships can be complicated, divisive, and fraught with confusion (especially in the beginning), sometimes an outsider can find it easier reach the child and gain his respect and confidence… read more.

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