Birthdays for kids who have lost their parents are sometimes a bittersweet day at best. At worst, it’s a reminder that the people who brought you into the world wouldn’t or couldn’t stay and take care of you. This can be because they died, they deserted you in some variation or you were removed from their custody. The mixed emotions involved will stay with the child, causing deafening inner-conflict, into adulthood. Abandonment issues will cause them to hurt themselves and others without understanding why or how to help themselves. How can they when they lost or never had the concept of primary love and care? How can it be demonstrated to the kids without families? Where are the monumental cracks in the system we can begin to repair now…today?
Einstein said that the quality of the questions we ask plays a direct outcome on the answers to those questions. That the question itself conveys energy and causes an almost magical effect on the forces at play. With my own birthday approaching, I was giving gratitude for my parents in my yoga class meditation time. It took me until I was in my forties to be able to think about them and not be consumed by grief; welling up with tears and wishing things were different. I owe my ability to truly be with my love for my parents to Michael and these kids in foster care. They awakened something inside of me no therapist could extract. They taught me one of the most valuable lessons of my life. My daily work on this project is fueled by my desire to give all of them a moment of what they have helped me find, peace.
In my case, as I have explained, my mentally ill father lost it and tried to take out the whole family. When it failed and he had a flashing moment of insight, he took his own life to protect me. He left a note saying that he couldn’t risk my life again and how much he loves me. Brave man. I love him for loving me so much it echoed through eternity; that my safety meant his sacrifice. My mother stayed with me. She fought through a nervous breakdown and a perforated ulcer to stay alive. When I asked how she did that, she told me that she kept my picture by her bedside. I am so proud of her for that. She loved me fiercely and taught me to do the same until she finally gave out at 51. In the end, it was a medication interaction by accident that killed her. Nobody who really knew the relationship we had believed that she would take her life as the medical examiners report indicates. Now, because of Michael directly and all the others I haven’t met, I now am able to believe it too.
If a child is not celebrated by others, they don’t learn how to celebrate themselves. To celebrate them and the precious people who brought me into the world, I propose an idea. As of today, I’d like people to contact an adoption placement agency or tell your pastor, rabbi, congress-person, guru; that you want to sponsor a foster child’s birthday just like they do at the holidays. We would do the legwork for you and down the road we will take the lead but our hands are full at the moment. I suggest Wendy’s Wonderful Kids or Together We Rise to start and see where that leads. I think it would be awesome to have kids getting cards from…anybody, really. Please, take a moment and do this simple action. It might be a domino in an outcome I haven’t even conceptualized yet. They deserve it. They have done nothing wrong, yet pay for the mistakes of others. You have no idea how much a small gesture means to someone in need!
This year I am happy. It’s a phenomenal change after years of pain and confusion. It’s literally like being freed from something imprisoning me. Now, my goal is to do the same for fosters. They are all my children and I’m listening to my instinct to protect them. Whether they are reached geographically or emotionally, if it takes a machete…I will spend the rest of my life mobilizing people to do it. Just as I feel the light of my parents love, organizations can be created to provide love to these kids. You can’t live on love but you can’t truly live without it. It’s free and fun, I say we give it away to as many kids in foster and those in our world as possible.
I want to say thank you to our backers. The first round of funding was a smashing success! They have given KINDRED much more than money, they gave us hope, excitement, joy, encouragement on purpose. This year, they have helped make my birthday a fantastic place to be! I’ll be spending it continuing to push for our second round of funding. It takes funds to continue our work. I (Amy) will travel to Miami to conduct an interview a few days after the date. On my birthday week I’ll have lunches and get phone calls and many happy wishes on Facebook. I’ll do yoga and be cooked for. I’ll take a drive and enjoy the air. I am grateful for all of it. As I drive, in moments of meditation, while at my interview I will project my vision for our BIG goals; $15,000 more in funding and entry into the Sundance Film Festival.
My wish this year is to help these kids with KINDRED. I want it to be such an E ticket attraction that people just show up at our screenings and functions as if it were a Grateful Dead show! I wish to use the funds, and we can account for all of it, to finish the editing and get us into then at Sundance with a distinguished showing. I wish for it to be myself, Rachel, Evan our composer and Mike of course…getting the word out at Sundance and grooving doing it. I wish that this is the most successful, impactive documentary ever and the birthdays of half a million kids can become celebrations of life. Showing each and every one how precious and needed they are in the world, no matter how they came into it or were treated by others. We are all KINDRED. We all deserve a birthday and place to call home.