The state of euphoria that consumed me while I was competing at this Miss New York State Pageant is hard to describe. I have been involved with the Miss America Organization for ten years now, but throughout that ten years I have never felt as confident, empowered, and content as I did that week. I finally had the faith to truly believe that no matter what happened, there was a plan for my future that would allow me to carry out my mission in the most effective way possible. I had faith in God, but equally as important, I had faith in myself that regardless of what those judges decided:
I am enough.
I didn’t need to compare myself to the other contestants. I didn’t need to be deceitful, I didn’t need to walk away with a crown to feel like I had won. Victory, for me, was in the opportunity I had to share the story of Sweet Pea with others and inspire them to also make a difference for foster children. Even if I had walked away as Miss New York, my biggest success in life would still be the progress that I have made with the children I have affected thus far, and will continue to affect in the future.
Which brings me to some exciting news…
The weekend prior to departing for Miss New York, I agreed to take in a little boy on respite. I wasn’t sure what to expect because I was informed that he was nonverbal, autistic, and diagnosed with Pica, but I graciously accepted the challenge. It didn’t take long for me to fall love with his sweet demeanor, contagious laugh, and beautiful big blue eyes.
Since returning from the pageant, I have learned that he will soon be in need of a full-time placement and because of the success we had over our weekend respite, my home is being considered! I am looking forward to spending this weekend with him and hope to see a lot more of him in the future. From what I have gathered about his situation, I may have another opportunity to work on reunification with a mom who needs some guidance. I pray that I am able to gain her trust and facilitate a relationship with her.
Additionally, I had an awesome experience providing respite care for a teenage foster child this past weekend! Our time together was filled with activities including the Relay for Life event, church, a trip to the beach, and scary movies…I don’t know how she talked me into that!
Throughout the weekend, I appreciated her transparency with me about her traumatic past and current situation. I was pleasantly surprised by her willingness to be open and trust me, especially considering that she had been diagnosed with RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder). Her entrance into my life came at an interesting time because I have been doing a lot of research about the “aging-out” process for children in foster care and have been horrified by what I’ve found (here is an example).
Since she will be aging out of the foster care system this Fall, I am determined to prevent her from becoming one of those statistics. I have asked for the opportunity to have her for more respites and was granted a week long visit at the beginning of July. I am so excited to spend more time with her and hope that this is just the beginning of something great.
Can’t wait to give you more updates!