A Hidden Hero: Kylee

The foster care/adoption world isn’t an easy one to navigate. It can be filled with frustration, heartbreak and tears just as often as it can success and joy. It takes exceptional individuals to navigate the system and fight day in and day out for these children. From caseworkers to non-profits to advocates, these people passionately believe in a permanent family out there for every waiting child.

 

In honor of those who fight to match children with these families, this month the SC Heart Gallery Foundation blog is dedicated to these “hidden heroes”. Though we know there are hundreds out there, we will be identifying jut a few of them each week.

 

As an older sister to four adopted children and a young adult pursing a career in social work, Kylee started the blog “Learning to Abandon” at age 16. Now a 21-year-old college graduate, her blog is still a powerful advocacy platform for adoption. That’s why Kylee is our hidden hero of the week.

 

Blog

Click here to read her family’s story.

 

You can also read her thoughts on aging out of foster care here. Here’s a brief snippet:

 

“One respondent said she had entered foster care at the age of two months and had ultimately ended up aging out of foster care, something that happens at either 18 or 21 years of age, depending on the state.

How is this okay? How is our system so messed up that a child is involved with the state for their entire childhood? Somewhere along the line, permanency plans are failing miserably.”

 

Or hear her answer to the question What was it like growing up with foster siblings in your home?” over at Foster 2 Forever’s website,from which we pulled the following insight:

 

“My family grew and then shrunk again on a regular basis and the family calendar was filled with court dates, parent visits, and caseworker meetings … I saw and understood injustice from a young age and I struggled with the evil I saw, but I also learned a million lessons and developed attributes that I believe I would not have today, had my parents chosen to keep the doors of our home closed.”

 

The South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation supports the work of the South Carolina Heart Gallery, which is a collaborative program administered and supported by the Foster Care Review Board, Office of the Governor and the South Carolina Department of Social Services.

 

 

A Hidden Hero: Michael Haley

We have the pleasure of meeting some pretty incredible people through our work–people who stand up on behalf of children in South Carolina who don’t have families of their own. This month the SC Heart Gallery Foundation blog is dedicated to these “hidden heroes”. Though we know there are hundreds out there, we will be identifying jut a few of them each week.

 

To kick off this series, we’ll start with South Carolina’s First Gentleman, Michael Haley.

Haley

Photo courtesy of Associated Press

 

As someone who was adopted at the age of 5, Mr. Haley knows what a loving family can mean for a child. He graciously served as a spokesperson for the “Open Your Hearts, Open Your Doors” campaign to support the work of the South Carolina Heart Gallery and its Foundation.

 

“I love the South Carolina Heart Gallery because of everything it embodies and gives back to the state. It’s everything that came to fruition in my life: security, stability, organization, and a loving home,” Mr. Haley said in a promotional video last year.

 

“I believe that we can find a permanent home for all of our South Carolina children waiting for adoption; I don’t think that goal is far out of reach.

 

“Opening your door to a child and providing them a loving, caring, permanent home is one of the greatest gifts that you can give. I would tell any family that is looking to adopt that these kids are our future; they are part of us, they are part of South Carolina, and we can make a difference in each of their lives. It made a difference in my life.”

 

The South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation supports the work of the South Carolina Heart Gallery, which is a collaborative program administered and supported by the Foster Care Review Board, Office of the Governor and the South Carolina Department of Social Services.

 

Through the Eyes of a Child

Most of us can’t imagine life without our families. They are the people who are always there to help us celebrate our successes and our failures. They are who we turn to for a word of advice or a shoulder to cry on.

 

Because a family is more than flesh and blood. It’s having people who love you unconditionally. It’s a support system that helps each of us along life’s journeys.

 

Yet, thousands of children across South Carolina have never understood the meaning of a family. They have never felt the safety and security of a loving home; they’ve never experienced unconditional love… but they also haven’t given up on it.

 

These children are waiting, wishing for a family of their own. And, for the first time, they are speaking out about it. Through a series of videos produced by the South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation, select children in foster care are telling the world about their lives, their interests, and what they are looking for in a forever home.

 

Here is what a few of them have to say:

 

“Just because things don’t go your way, that doesn’t mean you just give up on the world.”                  

–Derrick, 16 years old

 

“I’m nice, kind, and gentle…I’m not asking for much—just to have a good family.”   

–Devonte, 17 years old

 

“Someone taught me [three things] that help me every day: A. learn from your mistakes, B. if your day is going wrong, hope for a better one, and last but not least, treat others the way you want to be treated.”  –Kyle

 

“It would be a good family, if I just had the right family—that I’ve never had before.”

–Deon, 14 years old

 

The South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation supports the work of the South Carolina Heart Gallery, which is a collaborative program administered and supported by the Foster Care Review Board, Office of the Governor and the South Carolina Department of Social Services.