The State Employees Credit Union has always prided itself on serving members and helping people get homes and cars and loans when they need them. For many North Carolinians, it’s the first financial institution to make their acquaintance.
Now the SECU hopes to encourage another sort of investment, one that can return lifelong dividends. It’s helping its members to make the acquaintance of children who need their help.
For the next seven months, all SECU branches across the state will display pictures of children in foster care in North Carolina. The ultimate hope is that some SECU member will pause at a picture, be charmed by a smiling face and decide to open a heart and a door and consider adoption.
There are 10,000 foster children in North Carolina, an astonishing number. They come from a variety of backgrounds. Some have special needs and traumatic memories. Many would bloom in a secure, nurturing environment and would in turn happily deliver affection and love to a family that would take them in.
What glorious moments there are awaiting those families and foster children who find each other. Holidays shared, birthdays, new brothers and sisters, a sense of belonging, both in where one is and belonging to a family for good.
Foster parents do wonderful work in opening their homes to children who need them. But they know the children in their care want and need truly permanent homes with parents who will be their own, forever.
That need becomes all the greater when kids age out of eligibility for foster care and are then essentially on their own.
Judith Dorsey, the credit union’s manager for card services compliance, helped arrange for the displays of foster children in credit union offices. She is a former Wake County foster parent herself, so she knows about that aging out process.
“I can’t think of a person at the age of 18 who doesn’t need their parents anymore,” she said. “They just don’t have the guidance and the assistance they need if they run into a problem that they can’t handle on their own.”
Jamie Bazemore, adoption services manager for the N.C. Division of Social Services, sees the photographs as a starting point for a possible adoption. The picture displays are being called “Heart Galleries,” and with the SECU’s covering the state from mountains to coast, they’re a good way to get the word out.
These are children eager to love and be loved. Yes, they’d present the same challenges all children do. It is in answering those challenges, in helping a child read or mature in a hundred other ways, in helping to shape a young person, perhaps sending them on a path to success in work and in life that the joy in parenting is found.
The SECU effort focuses in part on children with special needs and on older children who are often more difficult to place in adoptive homes.
In North Carolina and elsewhere, many a parent and many a child have found each other, leading to a lifetime of giving and of rewards and of happiness. These are parents and children, after all, who have chosen each other ... for good.