For the 25th week in the 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, I'm reading Another Place at the Table - A Story of Shattered Childhoods Redeemed by Love by Kathy Harrison.
Kathy's Harrison's memoir of her life as a foster parent to over one hundred children for more than a decade is at times sad, heart-wrenching, and (thankfully) funny. It provides a very real picture of the foster care system and some of the children in it.
Harrison is an ordinary woman doing heroic work. She is honest about her own failures and weaknesses, about the difficulty in fostering troubled children, about the shortcomings of the foster care system, and about the tremendous need each child in that system has for a loving, attentive family.
The children who came to her were the offspring of addicts and prostitutes; the daughters and sons of abusers; and teenage parents who cannot handle parenthood.
Another Place at the Table paints an accurate portrayal of the foster care system and the challenges within it. As one social worker wrote in a review of the book, "This book should be mandatory reading for anyone interested in becoming a foster parent. Having been a social worker in the foster care system for many years, I appreciate Kathy's frank presentation of some of the most difficult issues that any foster parent may face."
She continues, "Some people go into fostering with a rosy picture of helping an innocent, angelic child, and those people are setting themselves up to fail. Kathy presents a realistic picture of the ups and downs of fostering, the good and the bad, that is definitely not for the faint of heart but is a true depiction of the feelings and constitution that it takes to bring wounded children into your home. I couldn't put it down."
This book is definitely not "light" or "easy" reading. It is, however, an inspiring book about the life of Kathy Harrison and the incredible impact she has made on the lives of children so desperately needing a parent and family who wanted to care for them.