One of the things that amazes me, is about every third person I talk to has more knowledge about the child welfare system and adoption than they ever knew they had. What also amazes me is that we are so often called to this work, but not sure exactly how to play a role. I had an Indiana University social work student ask me just yesterday, at an event where I served as a panelist, “How do you know when you are called?” My answer to her was the same answer I received from my father when I was just seven years old — where does your passion lie? I went on to ask her several more rhetorical questions: what makes your heart quicken; what is that thing you would do if you never got paid; what would you be excited about engaging in even if it were twenty degrees below zero outside? She thought a while and looked at me and smiled. I smiled back and said, “That’s your call.”
It is my humble, yet firm opinion that we all should lean where we are bent. Our true success rests there. I received my undergraduate degree in business from Purdue University and later an MBA and JD from Indiana University. Although I secured employment in Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 business institutions, I knew down deep inside, the corporate world was not the fertile ground from which I would produce harvest, at least not the kind of harvest that would provide intrinsic reward or reward to the world I served. Leaning on my father’s advice, I decided to use the skills and education I had obtained and entered the child welfare arena. There has not been one day, I have regretted this decision.
I imagine everyone reading this post has some sort of an urge, a beckoning, to in one way or another be involved in the lives of our most fragile population — our abused and neglected youth.
I am in complete awe and admiration of all who have chosen to foster and or adopt. As we know, the children who come into our homes are broken in often unimaginable ways. Even after eighteen years of advocacy, my heart aches when I meet a child who at six months was sexually abused by her mother; when I meet a child who still has fractures in his skull from being shaken at birth; when I meet a child who was left alone in an opioid infested neighborhood while his mother was too high to notice he was alone and without food or when I learn of a teenager who cuts herself and has attempted suicide on multiple occasions.
When I reflect on these instances and watch the number of children entering into child protective services increase exponentially year by year, I become even more appreciative of the community who steps in to help fill in gaps and helps heal a broken child, and even sometimes a broken system.
While I know not everyone is called to be a foster or adoptive parent, I do know calls come in many shapes and forms. So, let me ask you, have you ever been drawn to a fragile child? Have you ever watched a parent in the mall or at a sporting event yell obsessively at a minor and your heart quickened? Does your child have a classmate who is consistently drawn out of the classroom to “meet with a counselor?” If you answer yes to any of these questions, there is strong possibility you are drawn to the child welfare system and could be part of a well-needed solution. I encourage you to consider fostering, to consider adoption, to consider donating, to consider volunteering, to consider purchasing an item from a wish list or to consider just offering a smile to a child who makes your heart quicken. It will mean more than you know!
Chavis Fisher has a deep passion for child advocacy. She has spent the majority of her nearly eighteen-year career in law doing just that, advancing the needs of children. For Chavis Fisher, support of youth who have been abused and neglected has taken many forms. She’s helped hundreds of biological parents find appropriate services to aid in their healthy parenting. She’s represented the interest of a multitude of adoptive parents as they navigate through the child welfare system and perhaps most importantly, she has and continues to serve as a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate where she acts as a voice for fragile youth. Chavis Fisher has served on the board of two child advocacy entities, NOAH therapeutic foster care, and Chaucie’s Place. In 2013, she was honored the Congressional Angels in Adoption award. She is the author of, Adopting Tiger, a number one seller in adoption on Amazon.