I was traveling away from my family yesterday when I heard the news about the abduction in Springfield. I, along with so many others, kept refreshing my facebook page and checking news sources to see if anyone had located her. Just before going to sleep I saw that they had arrested a suspect…but they had not found the cherished little girl. I went to bed with a heavy heart but still hoping for a miracle. When I woke this morning, the first thing on my mind was Hailey. I said a prayer and reached for my phone, hoping beyond hope to see a happy ending. But there was no happy ending to this unfolding drama.

I've thought all day about her family, the witnesses, the police, the schools, and the hundreds of people directly touched by this event. I've prayed for all those 'what if' scenarious to be silenced. I've prayed for peace and comfort. This is unimaginable. It's a blessedly rare thing, a stranger abduction. But statistics are cold comfort in the light of fresh grief and tangible fear.

These tragedies leave us all feeling so helpless. They invoke our fear, our anger, but also our desire to reach out to help. I take some comfort in the fact that when one person commits such atrocious evil, thousands more respond with such amazing and profound love.

But despite that comfort, if I am honest, I am mostly overcome by anger and fear. It is in situations such as these that we can become overwhelmed by our more base desires, and crippled by our fears. I needed to find some way to channel all of this emotion and energy away from the cause of revenge, and into the cause of restoration.

So I reached out tonight to a couple of my friends that work with abused children. I knew that they would be processing this situation differently than those of us who are not used to confronting evil so directly. There is a heroic segment of our population who confront horrific stories on a daily basis. They step into the chaos and work tirelessly to restore order for children. One child at a time, day after day. So I asked them – what can we do? What is a tangible, concrete way that I and other's who are struggling with this tragedy, can make a difference in the life of a child? They had several suggestions but I'll focus on just one of their suggestions this evening – respite care for foster families.

Respite care is designed to provide relief from the stresses of the constant responsibilities that foster families face. Maybe you are not able to be a full time foster family but you have a heart to help kids. Respite care allows you to connect with children in a more temporary setting and not only provide them with healthy relationships, but also give some relief to those amazing families who are fostering full time. You do have to be licensed which means you have to submit an application and go through the different background checks. That process is described in full (for Missouri) here. What a fantastic way to support children and families! Do take note though, the process to get licensed takes some time and you need to be tenacious in the process, but what a wonderful way to channel all of our need and desire to help!

If you feel like respite care is also more than you are able to provide right now, you can reach out to the various organizations that support foster kids. I'll provide a link to several of them below. They are always on the lookout for new and used items, and monetary support is always needed as well.

Family Matters Resourse Center: Strengthening families, children, and youth touched by foster care or adoption through training, support, community collaboration and advocacy. This is a local organization providing support for our great foster and adoptive families.

AdoptUsKids.org is a great resource for both adopting and fostering families.

GreatCircle.org is the new site for Boys & Girls Town of Missouri – another great organization that helps our at risk kids.

The impact that we could have, as a community, to positively impact the lives of children cannot be under estimated. I will find a way to connect with the foster and adoption community in Springfield and I will do this in honor of that young life taken so tragically. I hope you will, too.

 

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