Six-year old boys don’t wake up dreaming of being professional baseball players nor do little girls dream of being neuro-scientists.  Those thoughts are often echoes of the desires of those raising them.  First grade boys and girls dream of adventure and fantasy, laughter and fun.  The score of the t-ball game is not nearly as important as the “snowy cone” after and who share one with you.  Security should be a given to all children but so often it is not.  The resilience of children is phenomenal and indeed, “hope springs eternal,” but for too many children, hope runs as thin as spider silk.

A little boy came to his dad one evening, two gloves and a ball in hand.  His Under-Armour cleats were on the wrong feet and one was unlaced just below the mismatched sock he found under his bed.  He was still wearing his elastic waist khakis from school but had put on his favorite, too small and worn out, Spiderman t-shirt.  The baseball cap he was wearing was too large and a memento his dad brought home from a Ranger game.

“Dad, I got the stuff, you wanna play some catch?”  Dad, laid back in his recliner, didn’t open his eyes and said, “Son, I really have a headache, do you think we could do this another time?”  The little boy with an expectant sparkle in his eye happily granted grace with a “you bet, dad.”  A few days passed and the tyke was headed back to dad with the intent to toss that padded baseball  t-ballers use to avoid injury and tears from bad throws and slow coordination.  “Daddy, its really great outside, you wanna throw me some pops and skidders?”  The young father looked up from his desk, hesitated, and said, “That would be great, but I am under a lot of pressure at work and I have to get this project finished.  Let’s do that later.”  The boy paused, and with much less enthusiasm replied, “Ok dad.”

Walking outside, the boy saw the neighbor girl and asked her if she wanted to play.  A week passed and once again the lad gathered up his gloves and ball and headed toward the garage.  This time he didn’t change from his sandals nor put on shorts and his favorite T-shirt was left in the drawer.  He muttered to his distracted father, “Dad…….you wanna play ball?”  The dad, fixated on the carburetor he was cleaning quickly said, “I have too much to do.”  The little boy walked out of the garage hurt and dejected, questioning his father and worse, himself.

A wonderful college professor and therapist by the name of Paul Faulkner once told me,

“Hope = Desire + Expectation.  If you want something (desire) and you think you are going to get it (expectation) then you are full of hope.  However, if you continually want something that you know you are not going to get, the reality is far too painful, so the natural reaction is to bury your desire and place your attention somewhere else.  That little guy sure wanted to play with his daddy.  He originally believed dad would come around.  Experience taught him that pops wasn’t going to play with him, so he buried his desire and took on other interests.  Dad came back a couple months later and asked, “Son, you wanna play catch?”  “Nah, I’m gonna go next door and play hide-and-seek.”  Hope lost.

Many children have had hope stripped from their lives due to the choices of adults. The effects of trauma come from myriad directions and intertwine themselves with body, soul and spirit.  Turning the lights back on for a child who has lived in darkness can seem like an over-whelming quest.  So, what shall we do?

  • Get a Ph.D. in Psychology?
  • Write a book on trauma?
  • Immerse ourselves in all forms of therapy?
  • Seek to know the correct response for every situation?

Let’s make it a lot easier.  Love them.  When they won’t let you in their heart? Love them.  When they are angry, defiant and aggressive?  Love them.  When they are depressed, pitiful and distraught?  Love them.  Love them when they don’t love themselves.  Be there when others were not.  Go to the school parties.  Go with them to hobbies.  Watch their games.  See them dance.  Throw a ball.  Go to the park.  Slide down a slide. Swim.  Have a tea party.  Watch a movie.

At the risk of stretching a verse too far, the apostle Peter said, “Love covers a multitude of sins.”  That is referring to forgiveness.  If you love others, you will let their “stuff” go.  However, you know what?  Your love can cover the damages of the sins of others upon children.  Love can heal the wounds.  It is not technical. It is not magic.  It is informed love.

Hope is a light at the end of a dark, dark, tunnel. We love our foster families for multiple reasons but very much for the hope they bring to children every day.  Hope is a candle that may be far away but it shines light on a path that gives children incentive to get up and walk out of the cavern. There will be missteps and falls, setbacks and suspicions but with unfailing love behind and beside them, they will walk out of the darkness, into the light, headed toward happiness and success………….because of you.

God bless our foster families – our family.  You are indeed changing the world, but isn’t that a bit abstract?  You are changing children – real kids with real names.  You are helping families.  You are healing generations of trauma and dysfunction. And you are encouraging me.  You inspire me.  We share hearts.  You are loved.


Eric Cupp