When our little brother came to live with us he got my seat at the dinner table. Our Mom was his teacher, they had a remarkable bond, and he needed a home. He got our brother’s old bedroom since he was off at college and my sisters and I continued to rotate sharing a room in the basement. He was 7, now he’s 31, and in between those 24 years he hasn’t missed a chance to eat meatballs and lefse on Christmas Eve and he is more like our Dad in his mannerisms and idiosyncrasies than the rest of us.
He’s our brother. He’s not our foster brother, just our brother brother.
He changed our lives. Or our Mom did when she convinced our Dad that her student would now be their son. There wasn’t an extra seat at the table, so he got mine. And what transcends from being booted out of your comfort zone is the idea that you should get over yourself and do the right thing for people who need a helping hand. Who need a meal. A hat and mittens in the winter. A home. A home, for God’s sake. A child needed a home. So many of them do.
No one was saving anyone. Our Mom and Dad were doing a very basic human thing: helping where they could.
This month we’re donating 25% of proceeds to Together We Rise, a non-profit that helps kids in foster care. Everyday 1200 kids enter the foster care system, and Together We Rise helps the way they experience it. Simple things like having a duffle bag instead of trash bags as luggage, scholarships to address the fact that only 3% of kids who enter the foster care system will graduate from college, free bikes, photo shoots for families adopting from foster kids, college move-in support. Things I take for granted because I always had these things, and so will my kids.
I was wondering yesterday if my niece would’ve made her way from foster care into our family without our little brother first making his way into it. He’s opened a door for all of us, and he told me last year that he feels like he won the family jackpot.
He’s not lucky. That isn’t an adjective that fully describes it. He simply got what he deserved, what ever child deserves, which is a safe place to experience their childhood. And my seat at the table, too.
Allyssa + Amy