With three children at home, my house looks like a toy graveyard. Legoes, Barbies and matchbox cars can be found anywhere and everywhere. Such is life with children, and as parents we learn that early. As we prepared for the arrival of our oldest child, not only was his nursery filled with things just for him, but they made their way into every room—high chair in the kitchen, swing and bouncey seat in the family room and who could forget all the laundry for those tiny little clothes and soft little blankets.
My arrival into this world was very different than my children’s. Born to a birthmother who was disowned by her family and had found herself living in a car with me and her older child, I eventually landed in foster care. But that was not to be my future. When I arrived to my forever family as a 14-month old, right out of foster care, I came alone. In a mismatched outfit and red and white striped socks I came. Just me. Nothing else. Of course that was gift enough for my parents—but I cannot help but think now, as a parent myself, how strange it would be for one of my children to be on this planet for over a year and have nothing of their own.
Each of my children have special blankets they have had since birth that they like to sleep with. My boys each have blue blankets with their names on them, my daughters is a knitted pink blanket, so loved I had to sew silky binding around the edges so it wouldn’t come apart. Though my children have so many “things”, when bedtime comes, when they are sad or want to snuggle up they still reach for the reassurance, security and familiarity of their treasured blankies. Those are important feelings for a child. When my 3 little angels were a year old, I made each of them big quilted blankets. Big enough that one day, when they go off to college they could still wrap themselves in the warmth of the blanket and my love…because no matter how old we get, we want to feel that.
Though our children came to us through adoption as infants, the children who are in foster care are never far from my mind. Some of them have been in the system for years and like me prior to my adoption, have been on this planet with nothing of their own. As I listened to Davion, the teen from foster care who reached out publicly this year in hopes of finding his forever family , my heart broke as he spoke of never even having his own pillow. Things we take for granted mean something. They mean something to these thousands of children who remain in foster care -sometimes moving from one home to the next, one bed to the next without the security and reassurance of a family that is truly theirs forever. With literally nothing and no one to call their own.
Thousands of calls came in following Davion’s plea for a family. All people who wanted to DO SOMETHING…people who wanted to help Davion and children like him- and there is no shortage of children in need. Many of us who want to help cannot do it by adopting these children, I know if I had my way I would have the house filled with children, but alas my husband has told me since the day our 3rd child arrived that he was the “last one”. But we can still make a difference. My Very Own Blanket (www.mvob.org) is a way to do that—a way to bring a child, warmth, security and something that is theirs alone. Since 1999, Jessica Hollins, founder of My Very Own Blanket and those who volunteer or donate have provided over 55,000 blankets to children in foster care. Whether you choose to make a blanket, donate money to supplies for blankets or offer your time cutting squares for the “quilting angels” to sew blankets from—YOU can do that. You don’t even have to know how to sew- My Very Own Blankets’ website has a link to making a no-sew blanket, which would be a great way to get your own children involved in giving. YOU can make that difference that can help a child feel loved and valued. YOU can give them something to call their own.
I love that My Very Own Blanket enlists the help of these sweet “quilting angels”. If you think about quilts and the history behind them—their designs have names and stories. Helping My Very Own Blanket gives you the opportunity to do the same for a child. Something as simple as a blanket of their own is a part of their story. No matter where they go it is theirs and someone cared enough for them, without even knowing them, to be sure they had it. I still have the little red and white socks I arrived to my parents in. My mom always got them out at Christmas time and hung them with a little red bow. I do the same. They are part of my story. Someone cared enough to keep my little feet warm that day and that means something. I encourage to you be a part of another child’s story through My Very Own Blanket’s opportunities to help. You will find that giving to these children will warm your heart, as well.