He wants them to know that they are not alone in this life. And, so a man named Mohamed Bzeek takes them in. He opens his arms to terminally ill children who are part of LA County’s foster care system. Bzeek knows that the children are going to die, but he brings them into his home, anyway, and loves them like they’re his own.
I read about Mohamed Bzeek in a recent article within the Los Angeles Times. Reporter Hailey Branson-Potts shares the story with compassion and dignity. The fact that Bzeek, a Libyan-born Muslim, takes these children in when no one else will is pure example of living love out loud. This, in itself, is enough for me to write a response to. Only, it is how Bzeek values these children that is the focus of my thoughts.
If you were to read the minds of foster children and youth in America today, you’d likely hear them say things like: no one looks for me, no one thinks about me. Perhaps, they’d add: I feel invisible and I’m tired of no one wanting me.
It’s tragic, really, that some 400,000 kids in the US foster care system fall asleep every night in a bed that is not their own, with thoughts like the ones above consuming their minds. They’ve been called “throw away kids” or “someone else’s problem.” Maybe some of them have been labeled as “difficult to place,” like I once was.
Truth be told, we have to wonder if anyone is listening. I wonder if anyone is listening. And, then I read the story of one man who is willing to care for foster children who are the sickest of the sick, and my heart is elevated to a place of hope.
There is urgent need for foster parents to care for foster children with severe medical needs. Take LA County for instance, as I quote from the LA Times article:
“Of the 35,000 children monitored by the county’s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), there are about 600 children at any given time who fall under the care of the department’s Medical Case Management Services, which serves those with the most severe medical needs,” said Rosella Yousef, an assistant regional administrator for the unit.
Mohamed Bzeek is known to be the one person whom the DCFS can call. Today, he is caring for a 6-year old girl with a rare brain defect. The girl’s arms and legs are paralyzed, she is blind and deaf and experiences daily seizures. He has cared for the girl since she was one-month old.
“She has feelings. She has a soul. She’s a human being.” Bzeek says within the article.
The experience of foster care can be quite dehumanizing. No matter the days, weeks, months or years spent in the system, a child can quickly feel erased. Society forgets that these kids are not case numbers — they’re humans with feelings. They have souls just as precious as anyone else.
How we, as a nation, respond to these kids says a lot about who we are. Loving them like they’re our own is where we must start. Loving them like Bzeek loves the children who have been in his care is an example that we must follow.
We may not be called to care for the terminally ill foster child, but we can certainly pray for that child. We may not be called to foster a child, but we can certainly support the cause of healing what is broken within the system. We can care enough to learn more. We can care enough to understand. We can care enough to wipe away the stigma. We can care enough to look at children in foster care through a different set of optics. We can care enough to see them as worthy of the same hopes and dreams that we call our own. We can care enough to love them as our own.
400,000 kids are asking us to care.
And, to the foster father named Mohamed Bzeek, I thank you for the care that you give. May we all, no matter our religion, color or creed, live by your quote:
“I do my best as a human being and leave the rest to God.”
Onward to caring,