November is my favorite month. Not only because it is the start of the holiday season, but it is also National Adoption Month. As an ambassador for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, I am honored to be an advocate for the more than 100,000 children living in foster care in the United States, waiting for their FOREVER family to find them.
I am Cassidy Mack, and I am one of the lucky ones! I am a survivor of my own journey through foster care. I spent 6 years, that’s over 2000 days, in and out of the system. For 6 years I dreamt of having a family of my own. I dreamt of having a mom and dad who wanted to love me and take care of me. I dreamt of siblings and pets and LOVE. I didn’t care what it looked like, as long as there was a lot of LOVE.
For a child living in foster care, it feels a lot like riding on the subway. People come and go, faces blend, and everyone gets off eventually. Trusting others was difficult and as a result, I learned many survival skills to form a protective shell around myself. This made me look like damaged goods, but inside I was just this little girl who wanted to feel safe.
After a while, a wonderful family did come along to adopt me. I thank God everyday for these amazing people who came along to show me what the word FOREVER means! They stood by me and patiently taught me how to trust others and how to let my walls down. It wasn’t over night and I’m sure it wasn’t easy on them, but they never gave up on me. I am so glad I opened up my heart.
For me, getting adopted meant that I was filled with hope, not hopelessness. I finally had the security and stability to find my passion. Now I am living my dream. My parents encouraged me to try acting because I had a lot of energy. Some liked to label it ADHD, but I prefer to think of myself as loving to live life to the fullest! They knew I needed a positive outlet to express myself. Acting gives me focus and purpose, and I LOVE IT! One of the most amazing gifts that I took away from my time in foster care is that I am able to use those experiences to bring depth to every role I play. I love to inspire myself, my characters and even those around me.
I refuse to be defined by my past…. instead, I am defining my future. It wasn’t my decision to go through the system, and I can’t change that, but what I get to do with the rest of my life is up to me and I am going to make sure that I make every single second of it count! Because of my forever family, I have the courage to believe in my dreams. I know that I am strong. I AM A SURVIVOR!
Adoption is a CHANCE. My forever family are my CHANCE GIVERS. See, I believe that you have to TAKE a chance on us to GIVE us the chance to be the people we were BORN to be! Because we are INCREDIBLE!
I want you to know that adopting a child from foster care doesn’t mean you are going to bring trouble into your life. It is important to know as a child in the foster care system; we did not enter the system because of something we did wrong. “Foster child” is NOT our name. It does NOT define us. We are real people. If you look up the word FOSTER in the dictionary, it means: to bring up, to nurture, to promote the growth and development of…to cherish. That is really what we want, and what all children deserve…to be CHERISHED. We are just dreaming and praying for a loving family to find us. We want to be loved unconditionally and accepted for who we are.
We want to belong. We need to be shown that everyone doesn’t just leave. We need someone to help us apply to college and figure out what we want to study, to come home to at spring break, to walk us down the aisle and sit on OUR side of the church, to bring our children home to on holidays and call Grandma and Grandpa. We need someone to believe in us and teach us how to believe in ourselves.
We want someone to show us what “forever” LOOKS like. We want a last name that means something. And we dream about this happening BEFORE we get too old and age out of the system.
Each one of those waiting children living in foster care right now has their own hopes, their own dreams and their own talents. They definitely deserve to see them come true. It is my passion, my purpose and my goal in life to see that every single one of those waiting children finds THEIR forever home. No matter how much awareness we share about families and love, there are still so many myths about adoption and the children waiting to be adopted that need to be addressed. As an advocate, I’m here to tell you that you can adopt a child at any age and still have a bond with them.
Maybe YOU are their CHANCE GIVER?!
HAPPY NATIONAL MONTH!