Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Can Little Fleas Biting Take Down a Big Dog?

"So often we think we have got to make a difference and be a big dog. Let us just try to be little fleas biting. Enough fleas biting strategically can make a big dog very uncomfortable.” ~Marian Wright Edelman, Founder of the Children's Defense Fund

It was a warm April evening in 2007 when I went to meet five-year-old Joey*. He had been in foster care for only one night when I had sat through a court hearing listening to the facts of his case. I came home from court, had dinner with Ed and the kids and then headed out to see Joey. I just couldn’t rest until I laid eyes on him and the foster home where he had been placed.

My book, Invisible Kids: Marcus Fiesel’s Legacy, begins with the conversation Joey and I had that April night. Somewhere between the words rushing out of his mouth and the fear in his eyes, something inside of me shifted. I was the same Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) I had been for nearly a decade, but in the flash of a second, between his words, my commitment to him and kids like him took a radically different turn.

I didn’t know exactly how I would do it, but I was determined to educate people about the tragedies facing foster children with the hope of empowering them to get involved. Foster child Marcus Fiesel’s death proved the government could fatally fail children. Joey’s fear demanded that I do something so that solutions could emerge. That evening at the kitchen table, my commitment to writing this book was solidified.

I wrote Invisible Kids by taking it one idea and one sentence at a time. The thought of writing a book was too overwhelming for me. I just told myself I had to write a paragraph. A year later, the manuscript was finished. I discuss this process in a podcast I did with Women Writing for a Change just after the book was released. Check it out HERE.

Joey had no way of knowing that he pushed me into writing Invisible Kids. In his childhood innocence and suffering, he refused to allow me to sit quiet any longer. He enabled me to see that I had an important message to bring to the world.

I’m extremely grateful for the countless people who have read my book and have been moved to action. I receive your emails and hear how you have made a difference for a child and I know that Marcus Fiesel’s death means something and we are bringing good from it. I also know that little Joey had an important contribution to foster care when he moved me to write about him and others.

Every significant accomplishment begins with a thought backed by a commitment to do the piece in front of us that we can do. Invisible Kids ends with a dozen ways to make a difference: some are big and some are small. All are doable. We don’t have to solve the foster care crisis overnight. We don’t have to find the one big answer to the problems facing our vulnerable children. We just have to do one small thing at a time, kind of like a flea biting a big dog.

*Joey’s name was changed to protect his identity.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Holly,
    I read your book and it has opened my eyes to so many issues with the foster care system I never thought about. I want you to know you did a fabulous job writing the book...I read it in 4 days (which is fast for me). My friend (and yours),Jill, gave it to me to read. Thanks for all you do for these kids. You are a blessing.