I’ve seen so many kids judged by their appearance, their background, their time in the system (foster or juvenile) and as a result dismissed as delinquents or simply too old to ‘save’ or change. It must be my dislike of stereotypes that wants each of these kids to show the world how capable and valuable they are to society and how beautiful they are on the outside and inside if given a second glance. It’s tough to see children placed in tough circumstances because their parents made bad choices or came upon hard times. I’ve had many personal encounters through my pro bono work as a guardian ad litem as well as a mentor in the foster system. I realized it was a big decision to get involved and truthfully it becomes more challenging as the relationships develops as the kids depend on you more and more emotionally. What I’ve learned is that when a child finally decides to trust me, I have to be there for them. I have to pick up the phone when they call, I have to make sure they know I am on board for the long haul, and I have to give them honest advice even if critical to prepare them for the real world. I’m so grateful for the many foster parents and adoptive parents in the U.S. and around the world. No child should be without parents or someone who can offer unconditional love. It’s a necessary piece of becoming a healthy adult.