Sunday, September 23, 2007

Smarty Sunday Book Recommendation: Real Belonging!

Hi everyone! Today I want to recommend a very special book. Its called Real Belonging, and its by Lynn Price. Lynn Price is the founder of Camp To Belong, which is the summer camp I volunteer at in the summer... the one that reunites siblings in foster care. Real Belonging is the story of this camp, and how it came to be.
It starts out with Lynn's personal story. She was put in foster care as an infant, and spent the first eight years of her life not even knowing that she was in foster care. At the age of eight she found out, in a very shocking way, that the people she thought were her parents were actually her foster parents. For one reason or another, her foster parents had decided to raise her as if she was their birth child, even changing her first and last name, and never telling her the story of how she came to join their family. When Lynn was eight, though, her actual birth mother started trying to regain custody of her, and Lynn's foster parents were forced to tell Lynn the truth. At age eight, it was very shocking for her to suddenly learn that not only did she have a different mother, but she also had a sister a year older than her, and that she was going to have to start having visits with this mystery mother and sister.
It was a hard way to grow up, but as Lynn grew older she found ways to incorporate all of her family members into her life. She grew especially close to her newfound sister, Andi. Both Lynn and Andi loved children and saught careers working with kids. Lynn volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in foster care, and made special efforts to honor the relationship between siblings in foster care. Eventually, she got the idea to start a summer camp dedicated to honoring bonds between siblings in foster care... and Camp To Belong was born.
The second half of the book tells different stories of sibling groups that Lynn met through Camp To Belong, and how the camp strengthened the bonds among siblings in foster care.
Camp To Belong started out as just one camp, but since then has spread to other states, allowing more and more siblings to experience the camp. To me, this is a wonderful thing. Most children in foster care can understand, on some level, why they cannot live with their parents. They may never admit it or say it aloud, but they know that their parent was abusing them, or was doing drugs, or was neglecting them, or kept on going to jail. They may long to be back with that parent, but they can somewhat understand that it cannot happen right now. However, one thing they cannot understand is why they can't be with their siblings. They may feel that the people around them do not understand or care about the bond between siblings, or even that the relationship between siblings is being discouraged. But when they get a chance to go to Camp To Belong, they see that adults do understand that sibling bonds are special, and they learn ways to keep that bond alive even if they can't live together all the time.
I definitely recommend you get your hands on this book. You can buy it either through the Camp To Belong Store, or through Lynn Price's website.


melody is slurping life said...

Nicki, this book sounds excellent. As a former foster mom and having assisted with some CASA projects, I would love reading this one.

Children's emotions are too easily dismissed by many adults, especially children of foster care. Thanks for the review.

Thank you for your kind comment today at SL. It means a lot.

PandasJr said...

I've heard of this camp and have even joined the mailing list for it. At one time I had one of six siblings who were all in different places, and I was trying to figure out how to get them to this camp. I'll have to get this book! Thanks!!

BTW thank you for your post. I hope you are able to figure out a way to start fostering soon, we need tons of good, caring people to take care of the large number of kids coming into care!! Especially because so many of thier cases are going to termination and foster parents are being called upon to adopt and give these kids permanence! All six kids in my home will soon be legally my children which means I won't be able to take on any new foster kids until mine start growing up and leaving home. The first one won't leave for at least 7 years. That means our region is losing 6 beds for the next 7 years. Someone needs to take my place for a while.

Good luck to you!! Kelly