A few years ago, lawyer John Cord and his wife, Kelly, who live in Baltimore, decided to take the city’s foster parent training course and sign up to be parents. Months later, the couple got a call asking if they would take in a six-week-old boy who needed emergency placement because of possible abuse. He had a dislocated arm and fractured leg, and radiology indicated older healed fractures that had never been medically treated. They agreed to be his foster parents and kept him for six months, until one of his relatives took him in.
Losing him was difficult, Cord said, but he’s glad he could help him. Children who end up in the foster care system need people to step in and help. Totally dependent on other people, they are in difficult circumstances “just because they are born to a family that is not ideal at the time,” he said.
The Cords have opened their home to four foster children so far. One is a two-year-old girl who lives with them and whom they may eventually be able to adopt. “As much as we love her, there are competing concerns,” Cord said, because the system is “designed to put foster children back in the hands of family members.”
“Every case in the foster care system is a tragic story,” he said. The system aims to “put these children in a safe place while their parents get their lives straightened out.”
Foster parents know they may not keep their foster children forever. Still, Cord said, “you fall in love with them.”
“People always say they couldn’t do it, but everyone can do this,” he said. “It’s hard, but every city has kids who need help.”
He noted that Baltimore City does a great job of training and providing support, and other resources are available, including groups of foster care parents.
“Like anything in life, there are a lot of reasons not to do something, but there are also a lot of reasons to do it,” he said.
When Cord and his wife had to let their first foster child go, he said he realized he wanted to have children of his own. They had a baby who is now nine months old. Before participating in foster care, he said, “I wasn’t sure I wanted kids. Now, I cannot imagine my life without children in it.”
Cord and his wife plan to stay on the list to serve as foster parents to other children. “There are still kids out there who need help, and we want to keep doing this as long as we can.”
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