I was adopted at 6 weeks old after a brief stay in someone’s home. And as an adopted kid, I always felt like I was tuned in to topics and issues concerning adoption. It wasn’t till my wife Tara and I returned from a trip to Haiti 3 years ago that our eyes and our minds were opened to the domestic orphan issue of foster care.
Did you know that right now in McLennan county, in your communities, there are 200 children eligible for adoption? Eligible, meaning that the system has already run it’s course and determined that the biological parents aren’t able to care for their children. In total there are over 600 kids in the county currently in state care. Some of these kids will sleep in State office buildings or group homes tonight because there are not enough families currently foster certified. In fact, the current lack of homes results in 65% of the children needing foster placement in McLennan County being sent to another county, away from all they know, in order to have a place to stay.
When I first heard these numbers it lit a fire somewhere inside me, and I’ll tell you why… I don’t believe that the number of kids that need help is larger than the number of families that be a part of the solution if they understood the situation. I mean, remember, I’m adopted, I think about adoption and the plight of kids like me, and I was not clued in to the need in my community… That has to mean that there are a whole lot of people who don’t understand the situation and how they might be part of the solution.
Pondering this topic caused me to look up Webster’s definition of the word foster, and here’s what I found:
Verb – fos*ter
To give parental care to: nurture
To promote the growth or development of: encourage, mentor
Now, as a songwriter, I’d been collecting song ideas and pieces of songs throughout the first 20 months of our foster experience. And the definition above caused me to reach out to a guy that has mentored countless singer/songwriters including myself, Radney Foster. And as if the last name and his mentorship of musicians wasn’t enough,,, Radney has two adopted siblings and has experienced first hand the life changing results of his parents providing children with a place to stay.
Well, before I knew it I was on a plane to Nashville and the songs for The Foster EP were written. Fast-forward to today and the songs have blossomed into a 12 city tour called the “A Place to Stay – Tour for Foster Awareness”. With the help of The First Lady of Texas, The Department of Family & Protective Services and key faith-based and community leaders, we’re raising awareness in the most distressed foster care areas of the state.
I hope you’ll follow our journey thru these blogs and the music, and I hope you’ll do two things for me… Share this with the people in your community, and open your mind & heart to the possibility of providing one of the kids in McLennan, that need one, a place to stay.
Kyle Hutton is an adoptee, foster parent, founder of The Real Life Real Music Foundation and contributing songwriter for the “A Place to Stay – Tour for Foster Awareness”.