Picture this nightmarish scenario. Two strangers come to your door and demand that your child leave with them . . . immediately.
Your child isn’t allowed to take his dog or favorite toys. The person he loves the most—you, the parent—can’t go with him either.
If your child is lucky, he might get to stay with a caring relative; if he is a little lucky, his next home might be with a caring family.
But many youngsters aren’t lucky. They end up with other scared children in a group home or in a succession of temporary foster homes.
By now, you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about foster care. After all, most of the stories in Style are lighthearted, positive, and fun. That’s who we are. But we’re also an advocate for change. And that means that we must sometimes delve into the dark side of Lake and Sumter Counties and examine heartbreaking topics.
As of September 2022, 425 Lake County children were in foster care according to Florida Child Welfare Measures. Most of those kids were placed into foster care for reasons that make me shudder: physical abuse, sexual abuse, abandonment, caretaker drug or alcohol abuse, inadequate housing, and neglect. In many cases, the child experienced more than one of those cruelties.
This month’s feature story presents an in-depth examination of the local foster care system. Be forewarned, you may be moved to tears. I was.
We present this no-holds-barred expose not to shock, but to open eyes and encourage couples to become foster parents themselves.
No calling is more noble. Foster parents provide vulnerable children with a stable living environment, physical and emotional care, and unwavering support—all critical needs that a child lacked in his own home.
On a lighter note, I think you’ll find our other feature story spook-tacularly stimulating. Since this is October, we want to introduce you to several abandoned or seemingly haunted buildings in Lake County. Long past their heyday, some of these places include creaky old buildings covered in vines and boarded-up churches. Other buildings have a history of unexplainable sights or sounds that scream “Ghosts!” But you decide for yourself. You may want to sleep with the light on after this read.
I hope everybody has a fun and safe Halloween. Also, I’m excited that we’ll soon enjoy a much-needed break from the sweltering Florida heat and humidity.