Lacey Lett’s Big Heart Opens Doors For Foster Kids
It is tough to comprehend how monumental our nation’s foster care crisis is. It’s tough because the silence that masks the deep-seeded nature of the problem is deafening, especially to the more than 435,000 kids currently living in foster care. And yet the ramifications of this crisis touch all, whether or not one of those kids is actually yours.
An inconvenient truth and one I became no longer content with doing little about, I decided to become part of the solution, including taking the necessary steps to become a licensed foster parent, myself. Along the way, I’ve met many remarkable people, all of whom are fighting to turn the tide and make a difference. Frankly speaking, without these bastions of hope fighting for the innocent - children whose hands are bound while their fates swing in the balance - the already grim landscape would look so much worse. One of these people is Lacey Lett.
Lacey Lett is the incredibly personable and caring host of segments called “A Place To Call Home” for Oklahoma’s News 4 (KFOR/NBC). In introducing foster children waiting to be adopted through these heartwarming segments, Lacey transforms our nation’s issue into a very personal one. The many children she features will pull at your heartstrings. And she, herself, will motivate you to dig down deep into your soul to see if there is any space at all for one of the many 9,000 Oklahoma-based foster kids waiting for the lives they truly deserve to begin.
So moved by Lacey Lett and “A Place To Call Home” that I asked her to share more about herself as well as her thoughts and feelings regarding the foster care crisis and these kids. You will understand my appreciation of her in reading her answers below.
Your work brought the national foster care crisis into your life. Explain how it has become personal to you?
These children mean the world to me, and I keep up with their progress as often as I can. I’m passionate about them finding a home and keeping funding to give these children resources while they are in state custody. Going into foster care is a traumatic experience in and of itself for these kiddos. Then, if the parents rights are terminated, and there’s no way they will ever go back to their biological parents, it’s another trauma on top of that. I want to find ways to give these children more stability, give parents more resources to raise children in a healthy way depending on the situation, and give these children the ability to lead as normal lives as possible without constantly having to change schools, cities, homes, friends, families, etc.
What have you learned about these kids that you might not have known had you never hosted the series "A Place To Call Home?"
My knowledge of foster care and adoption was very minimal before I started producing “A Place To Call Home.” My mother was adopted by her stepfather, but other than that, foster care was not a part of my upbringing.
I would say what I’ve learned most about the children under DHS custody is how resilient and forgiving they are. I’m impressed time and time again by how strong these children and teenagers are when you speak to them. Most of them have had to grow up faster than they should, so they show a lot of maturity in their approach to life. I also see some of the children still wanting to be with the parents who either abused or neglected them. It seems some of them just want to keep that sense of normalcy with their biological parents, but unfortunately that cannot happen for them.
What is the most shocking part of the unexpected education you've received about this crisis?
These children are growing up in a vicious cycle of instability. They are moving around all of the time which seems to increase their behavior issues. That in turn makes it more difficult for them to get adopted, but if they could find a stable home, I believe those behaviors would subside tremendously. I’ve had a few children voice their frustration of going from one foster home to the next and being confused as to what rules to follow. What is okay in one home is not okay in the next and vice versa. They end up getting in trouble for something that was not an issue in a previous home. I can’t imagine how frustrating that would be for anyone, nonetheless a child.
Share your thoughts with regards to couples adopting from outside the United States when so many children wait patiently to be adopted within the foster care system?
This is a difficult question and one in which I do not want to give judgments. There are so many children around the world who need good supportive homes including the more than 400,000 in the United States who are in foster care at any point in time. DHS offers free adoptions and some states offer free legal representation now including Oklahoma.
What about this crisis gives you the least hope and what gives you the most hope?
I think all adoption advocates would like to see the number of children in DHS custody go down to zero, but I don’t think that will ever happen when there are drugs, crime, a cycle of abuse from generation to generation, etc. On the flip side, I have met several people who were able to utilize the resources DHS gave them to go to college and have successful jobs free of crime. These resources including free housing and college give these young people who age out another opportunity to succeed on their own without feeling completely alone in the process.
Do you believe there is a larger purpose behind your being called to the task of hosting the series "A Place to Call Home?" Have you thought about it? And if so, please share.
Absolutely. I believe I have a new purpose in life to give these children a voice and to raise awareness about this horrible issue rampant in our society. It’s unacceptable that there are more than 9,000 in DHS custody at any point in time in Oklahoma, and without awareness of this problem, the general public may never know. I really hope it breeds more foster families and adoptive homes.
You are a recent newlywed. Would you ever foster a child?
Ooh this is getting deep! We are definitely not at a stage in life to think about fostering any children, however we have discussed possibly adopting a child in the more distant future. It’s something we’ve both thought a lot about.
What would you say to individuals and families who may have an interest in fostering but are unnerved by the negative stigma that goes along with these kids?
I would say it’s important to seriously think about what goes into fostering a child. Having said that, there are SO many families that foster a child and couldn’t imagine life without them. These kiddos are just like any other child in many ways with temper tantrums, teen angst, etc., and they just need a loving home to go through those tough times with and thrive into successful adults. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed along the way, it’s that some of these children are incredibly inspired by the foster parents helping raise them and want to be just like them. How powerful is that?!
The success of Lacey’s segments speaks for itself, including for one 10-year old boy named Roger, who received a flood of responses from eager parents after viewing his particular segment. If that doesn’t make you think - if not cry - nothing will.
Folks, when it comes to the magnitude and consequence of the foster care crisis, every voice counts. And although, many are already standing up, like Lacey Lett, many more are needed. I urge you to become part of the solution. Every state has children sitting in wait, anxious for the day when they too will have “A Place To Call Home.” Consider opening a door and saving a life. There are over 435,000 children patiently praying and waiting for you to do so. They need your help.
Many thanks to Lacey Lett And KFOR for making this interview possible