Rachel Marie was like most 20-year-olds — she couldn't wait to turn 21 — but it's not for the reason you're thinking. While most other people her age were likely out celebrating their new legal status, Rachel was becoming the youngest foster mom in her Minnesota county — and now she's urging others to do the same.
In a post to Facebook, Rachel opened up about her experience as a young foster mom:
"As a foster mom, I hear horrific stories of children being abused and neglected on a daily basis. There is no possible way that I could not foster after what I have seen and heard. . . . Each child that I have had, I bonded with as if they were my own. . . . I have fallen in love with all of them the moment I meet them and I don't stop loving them even after they have left. When they leave, it is beyond heartbreaking. Yet, the blessing of having them in my life and watching them grow and thrive for just a short period of [time] is ABSOLUTELY worth the loss that I feel when they leave. I am sharing my story in hope that someone out there will be inspired to become a foster/adoptive mom."
Rachel's story was shared by Frank Somerville, journalist at KTVU, who is an adoptive dad. In his own post to Facebook, he wrote, "I love this picture on so many levels. . . . After I read it I found myself saying: 'God bless anyone who wants to be a foster parent.' . . . I can't talk personally about foster care but I can talk about adoption. My youngest daughter is adopted. . . . She doesn't look like me. I don't look like her. But she's my daughter. And I'm her dad. And no one can change that. It's a beautiful thing."
In just a couple of weeks, Rachel's post has been shared not only by Frank but by over 98,000 people. Due to the overwhelming responses and questions, she has created a website, Foster21, to educate and inspire people about foster care.