Friday, May 29, 2015

Childhood Memories, Foster Care, and American Girl Dolls

Growing up with American Girl dolls was a huge part of my childhood.  I jokingly (sort of) titled this post with "Samantha was the popular one" because the historical line was such a big deal back in my day.  I remember everything from the Christmas that I received my first American Girl Doll, Samantha and I loved each girl's storyline.  I collected the books, outfits, everything.  I think it was also a big deal for my mom because as a little girl I had all of these adventures with my doll and when my mother was growing up, she did not have access to dolls and quality toys do to the poverty of her community.  She and I had gone down to the American Girl Place in Chicago a couple years ago because I never got to go as a kid.  I begged my parents to go and would tote Samantha with me to every visit to Chicago but no dice.  So going as an adult was still an almost overwhelming experience and during that time they archived Samantha (stupid business mistake) and brought her back last year.  However back to the trip to the American Girl place.  My mom saw this doll with gorgeous long blonde hair named Julie.  I could tell that in that moment my mom was a little girl again.  That is the magic of childhood and having that bond with toys that spark your imagination and playtime.  Two Christmases ago I was able to surprise her with the Julie doll.  

Thank you so much for my beautiful doll. It's the first one I've ever had.  I have tears in my eyes.

I loved that moment so much!  With my recent ectopic pregnancy I think I've become tremendously reminiscent of my childhood.  It's been a strange time because I have wanted to be a foster parent and now I feel like Ryan and I are now officially set in a situation where we can seriously consider that.  We have always wanted to adopt and with both our work with foster children and children from low income families, foster-to-adopt is one means that we are very interested in.  That's not to say that we won't try again later to have a successful pregnancy but I'm feeling really good about moving forward.

I started praying more and more about this situation and God refocused a lot of my quiet moments on my childhood memories and bringing that type of happiness to a child.  Ryan and I started bringing up the conversation of foster care again.  The next morning the director for foster care at DPHHS called me. It was this weird, divine intervention-like phone call.  He also called me when I was two blocks from DPHHS so I stopped in and picked up a packet of paperwork.  I was kind of nervous because Ryan and I had struggled in our conversations the last time we talked about it.  However, we've been chugging through all of the paperwork.  We had to come up with four references and we have so many couples and amazing people in our lives volunteer!  I'm feeling great about this process.  

I had this dream where Ryan and I took this little girl that we adopted who was probably 7-years old to the American Girl Place in Chicago with the rest of our family.  She was so cute and so excited as she picked out her very own American Girl doll.  It was this fantastic dream of our family's memories on this vacation with everyone.  I'm excited for what the future will bring.

I not only imagine playdates but sweet little girls dressing up as princesses and family vacations to Disney.  I know Ryan is going to be a phenomenal dad so it's all very exciting.  Even if a child needs a temporary home, I know we can provide that and are excited for that opportunity.  

As I've been going through this process, I came across this awesome organization created by a little girl named Becca.  Dolls for All is a great group that raises money every year to purchase American Girl dolls for girls in foster care.  This is a fantastic article about the work they did in 2013.  It seems like they can raise money for 18-19 new dolls and gently used American Girl dolls are also donated leading to a total of 32-33 dolls given to girls in foster care.  My childhood was so closely bonded to my adventures and imaginative play that I feel every girl should have a toy or toys that represent that for them.  Since Mattel has ultimately changed the branding of American Girl Dolls, I don't know if they have quite the same impact and worth, especially due to their prices but nevertheless, every child should have a toy that is that special to them.  

It's sparked an interest in me to do something similar for the little girls in my community here who are part of foster care.  I don't know exactly how to start.  Do I need to file official paperwork? I might start making a few phone calls on the topic because I would like to heavily work on fundraising and ultimately purchase the dolls for Christmas to distribute as presents.  Any tips or tricks for starting this would be marvelous!   

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