Most child health professionals are well aware of the growing numbers of children in foster care in the United States, currently numbering more than 500 000.1 These children lead emotionally and physically precarious lives, and their greatest unmet need is for loving and secure homes. In my view, those who volunteer to serve as foster parents automatically qualify for seats in heaven.
But spiritual kudos aside, what is it actually like to take a foster child into one's home? In a book compiled from diaries kept during the first year of his son's placement, Richard Miniter writes of his family's experience. He and his wife, Susan, were well established in their careers and had already raised 6 children when Susan was moved to respond to an advertisement from the Harbour Program in Ulster County, NY, which sought to place children marred by abuse and neglect. So began a life-altering experience not only for Susan and Richard but for all of their children, especially 11-year-old "Mike."