Spreading Rays of Hope…a hat at a time

Gifts from Judy

We received these beautiful hats from Judy in North Hollywood. Donation From Judy

This is Judy’s second donation to us and we could not be happier to be receiving her donations. Thank you Judy for your help. These hats will surely make a few babies and children happy this month. As September has come and gone and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is complete, we hope that people continue to talk about the need for a cure NOW and continue to raise awareness always. Children depend on the adults of the world to keep them safe and we need to live up to their expectations and find a way to end this horrible disease!

A little bit ago, I was reading an article in Newsweek (link) that is very concerning about Pediatric Cancer.


From Newsweek: A young cancer patient resides in Raymond Poincare Hospital’s department of pediatric oncology in Garches, France. Children represent such a small percentage of cancer patients that pharmaceutical companies don’t see funding treatments and cures for pediatric cancer as a lucrative endeavor. BSIP/UIG/Getty

Please take a few minutes to read the article, I promise you it’s worth it!

These beautiful hats came to us from Robyn in Phoenix, Arizona. We love the cute bow on the red one, a great embellishment!


Thank you Robyn for your generous donations. We are so glad to have you as our friend. We can’t wait to see what you create next.


We received these beautiful hats from our friend Donna in Washington State.



In her letter she promised another box to follow, and we can’t wait to receive them. Thank you Donna for your continued support and for helping us to spread Rays of Hope to the little ones. Keep up the great work!

We received these 34 NICU hats and 7 children hats from our new friend Yvonne from Vista, California.  We are so excited about having a new friend! Thank you Yvonne for sending us your creations to donate. We love your hats and are so thankful you have chosen to help us spread Rays of Hope to babies and children.


We especially love this hat pictured below. What a great design! This will make a little one very happy.


Thank you, Yvonne, and we hope to see more of your creations in the near future.

Foster care is a nightmare for some kids and their foster parents. For others, it’s a blessing.
Zoe’s story, “Removed,” has been seen by millions of people.

It was previously shared by my amazing Upworthy colleague Laura Willard. We got just a tiny taste of what it was like for kids in foster care, right after being removed. Specifically, a little girl named Zoe and her little brother Benaiah.

My wife and I, foster parents for the past year, even shared the original with our adoption worker, who passed it along to the entire agency and, then, it took off like wildfire among those people as well.

This is part 2 of that story, and it hits hard.

(Yes, the video’s on the long side at about 20 minutes. But it’s worth the watch to the end.)

She describes her life as a cycle, interrupted by a tornado. She’s a foster child. I don’t think I need to say any more.

So … let’s accompany that with 19 uncomfortable — but enlightening — facts below. There are only nine bolded, but within those headers, there are several more facts.

1. There are an estimated 400,000 kids in foster care right now.

Some are awaiting adoption. Some will go back to their parents. Others will age out or, sometimes, run away.

2. Foster kids can suffer from PTSD at almost two times the rate of returning veterans.

And PTSD can mimic a lot of other mental illnesses, and it can manifest as nightmares, flashbacks, fight-or-flee responses, anger outbursts, and hyper-vigilance (being on “red alert” at all times), among other symptoms.

Image via Nathaniel Matanick.

3. The average age of a foster child is 9 years old.

They’re just on that edge of childhood, and chances are, it’s been a pretty messed up childhood at that. Trauma does that.

4. About half of all foster kids are in non-relative foster homes.

8% are in institutions, 6% are in group homes, and only 4% are in pre-adoptive homes. Read that again — only 4% are in pre-adoptive homes.

5. Some of foster children experience multiple placements. In some cases, eight or more.

That’s eight homes that they move into — and out of. And just consider … that means they lose not just adults and other kids with whom they are establishing a bond, but friends, schoolmates, pets.

Clip via Nathaniel Matanick.

6. The average foster child remains in the system for almost two years before being reunited with their biological parents, adopted, aging out, or other outcomes.

8% of them remain in foster care for over five years. Of the 238,000 foster kids who left the system in 2013, about half were reunited with parents or primary caregivers, 21% were adopted, 15% went to live with a relative or other guardian, and 10% were emancipated (aged out).

7. In 2013, more than 23,000 young people aged out of foster care with no permanent family to end up with.

And if you add that up, year after year, hundreds of thousands of foster youth will have aged out of the system. What does that look like? “You’re 18. You’ve got no place to live and no family. Good luck — buh-bye now!” One-quarter of former foster kids experience homelessness within four years of exiting the system.

8. Foster “alumni” (those who have been in foster homes and either adopted, returned to parents, or aged out) are likely to suffer serious mental health consequences.

They are four-five times more likely to be hospitalized for attempting suicide and five-eight times more likely to be hospitalized for serious psychiatric disorders in their teens.

Based on that set of statistics alone, it’s in the public’s interest (ignoring, for a second, the interests of those kids) to help them through their lot in life and spend resources making it all work much better for everybody before it gets to that point. Right?

So there’s a lot to be angry about in this whole messed up situation. But this next thing? My blood boils.

What’s one of the biggest risk factors in families whose children are placed in foster care?

Your guess?



Sexual abuse?


The answer is …

9. Poverty

Together with homelessness and unemployment, it’s a main contributing factor. It happens all the time. The fact that it’s far easier for a parent to be accused and investigated for neglect or abuse because of simple things like lack of access to a vehicle, or a working refrigerator, or the ability to get a kid to a doctor’s appointment — that has a lot to do with this. Tie that to the link between drug abuse and poverty and between poverty and child abuse … well, you can see where this is going.

And in a country where one-third of children are living in poverty (hint: the good ol’ U.S. of A.), imagine how that affects the number of kids being removed and placed into foster care.

I’ll end this with a bit of hope through my story.

My kids went through something a lot like the kids in the clip above before they came to live with us. We’ve been through the ringer in ways that we’re going to have to talk about one day because it’s not just that the kids have been challenging — they have — it’s that the system itself has been more challenging.

The entire system — from agencies to government entities to social workers to even the schools — seems like it’s designed to fail these kids and the families who are attempting to help. It’s almost designed not to work. There, I said it.

But that doesn’t mean we won’t fight to make it better for everybody. We most definitely will.

Image from a photo by my wife, Robin.

As for us, we’re just a few weeks away from becoming the legal parents to these kids, and we’re extremely happy to be right here, making it happen. And they seem quite happy to be our kids. Along the way, we fell in love with them, and we can’t imagine life without them.

But to be totally honest … if we’d have known how hard it was going to be when we started this journey, and if we could somehow turn back the clock and NOT do it … well, would we have actually gone forward with the process?

I take that back. I won’t be totally honest here. I will simply let you decide.

Here are some places to help, if you’re so inclined.

  • AdoptUsKids.org is a place to start if you’re considering fostering or adopting.
  • My Stuff Bags is a really cool and inexpensive way to help foster kids by gifting them actual luggage, duffel bags, and more, so that they don’t travel from home to home with garbage bags for their belongings — or nothing at all.
  • CASA for Children offers legal help and advocates for foster kids through a network of volunteers.

Prince Ea illuminates the paradox of social technology.  Sometimes we can’t seem to disconnect.  And sometimes though we are connected, we are still so lonely.

We long for real life interactions!

Put the phone down, walk away from the computer, and go live today.  Laugh.  Enjoy time with loved ones.  Stop checking your phone– live in the moment.

Enjoy yourself to the fullest!

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