Me: I’ve seen a lot of links to videos lately about people disgracing the American flag. It’s amazing how much controversy can arise from someone stomping on a flag.
Friend: Yeah, people get really worked up about that kind of thing. I think it’s awful what some people do to our flag.
Me: And, you don’t even have to stomp on the flag to upset most people. Just let a little corner unceremoniously caress the ground and you’ve got a fight on your hands.
Friend: Well, we are a very patriotic nation. We like our symbols and we fight to protect them.
Me: I get it. But what I don’t get is how people don’t seem to care if a child has to sleep on the floor of an office building. Honestly, what can this mean to the child? A flag, which simply consists of woven fibers and dye, is more important than he is? I mean, if that flag can’t touch the ground, then why should the child have to?
Friend: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Me: I realize this might not make any sense unless you understand some background. You see, every night in Arkansas (and across the USA), there are children who sleep on the floors of office buildings.
Friend: Why do they do this? Is this a group of kids who finds thrills in sneaking into office buildings and bedding down for the night?
Me: Actually, no. It’s quite the opposite. Prior to occupying floor space in buildings, these kids were abused or neglected by their caregivers (aka parents). The state found out about it and investigated, and they determined that these children were in imminent danger if they were to stay in the custody of their caregivers. Therefore, the state removed these children from their homes and brought them to the office of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to sleep on the floor at night.
Friend: Wait, wait. Why are the kids sleeping on the floor? I thought there were foster homes who took in kids like that?
Me: You’re right. There are. But there are not enough. So, every night in Arkansas (and across the USA), children sleep on the floors of office buildings. Then, in the morning, these kids get up and go to school or daycare without even taking a bath, and then they return in the evening to squat in the DCFS office for the night. And, they will continue to do this until a foster home agrees to take them in.
Friend: So these are the kids who are trouble-makers, I mean, the ones that no one wants, right? And it’s not that big of a deal for kids to sleep on the floor for one night. I slept on the floor at my grandparents house every summer when I went to visit them. I bet it was fun for those kids- like a slumber party.
Me: This past Wednesday night, May 13, in Sebastian and Crawford Counties in Arkansas, 15 kids slept on the floor of the DCFS building. That happens almost every night. And, these aren’t juvenile delinquents I’m talking about- they range in age from 11 months to 17 years old. So, sure, I suppose you could call an 11 month old a trouble-maker, if he needs his diaper changed in the middle of the night (like all other 11 month olds). Or the 17 year old might be a trouble-maker, if he wants to be cool and have a car and friends (like all other 17 year olds).
Friend: I think you’re trying to make me feel guilty about this, but it isn’t my fault. I’m not their lazy, abusive parents. It’s not my fault they’re sleeping in the DCFS office.
Me: They’re sleeping there because there aren’t enough foster homes for them to sleep in.
Friend: Whoa! If you’re suggesting I be a foster home, you’re forgetting that I’m super busy with my OWN family.
Me: I think any foster child would appreciate being a part of a super busy household. They could experience, for the first time, what it takes to be a part of a healthy family.
Friend: No, thanks- I already have kids of my own. I don’t want anymore kids.
Me: I think any foster child would appreciate being in a home with other kids. It would help them learn to develop healthy relationships.
Friend: Well, that may be so, but my kids would pick up on all the bad things that foster kids do.
Me: You mean like having parents that don’t feed or clothe them properly, or having parents that abuse them?
Friend: No, I mean like how foster kids are all screwed up and get into trouble. I don’t want my kids around other kids like that. You know, “Bad company corrupts good moral,” and all that.
Me: Really? Because if we’re quoting the Bible, then let me remind you that Jesus said something about loving your neighbor. I seem to remember, in fact, that that was the second greatest commandment ever, of all time. And there was also the command Jesus said to take up your cross and follow Him. Seems like Jesus set a pretty high standard for us to live up to. I know there are sacrifices for everyone in a foster family, but those sacrifices barely even fall into the realm of what Jesus sacrificed.
Friend: Yeah, well, people without kids can take in foster kids. You know, those people who wanted kids of their own but couldn’t have them. They’d be perfect foster parents.
Me: Yeah, because we all know that the best parents for “trouble-makers” are people who have no experience raising children, right?
Friend: Well, no, but…
Me: What you’re saying is that if you were to open your home up as a foster home, it would disrupt your perfect life-style?
Friend: Well, I never said we were perfect. I just don’t think it would work out for us right now.
Me: That’s unfortunate. Because right now there are 15 kids sleeping on the floor of the DCFS office in Fort Smith. I guess, maybe if they get cold, they can wrap up in a nice warm flag. Or, wait, that’ll make people upset, won’t it?