Furries 4 Fosters: Teen calls for donations for foster children

By: Tehya Tournier

If you were randomly taken out of your home and are placed in a house filled with people you have never met before, what stuffed animal would you want to have with you?

Being a foster family is a difficult thing, but being a foster kid is much harder. Newborn babies to 17 year olds are placed in a home or multiple homes for many different circumstances. The children don’t know where they are going and don’t understand why they have to leave whether they are almost an adult or not.

When my little brother came into my home, he was shy and didn’t say more than a few words the first night. It was Dec. 4, 2014, and I couldn’t imagine what was going through his head. I could tell he was curious about everyone in my family, even our puppy dixie. We had a nice house, filled with love and warmth, but if you looked into his big brown eyes, you could see that our three-year-old boy was still afraid.

I have heard plenty of times, “Oh it must be hard to foster kids,” or “How can you do that? It must be exhausting.” I had heard even more negative comments about foster children and the foster system as I got older.

Yes, it is difficult and very tiring, especially for parents, but few think about the kids going through it all.

Ty, my little brother, had no idea who my family was or what he was getting into. That little boy had gone through hell and back in his three years of life. In fact, he went through more than what a lot of us will in our entire lives.

My brother made a 360 and is a completely different kid. I understand now that he was scared. He was tired and frustrated, and Ty isn’t the only kid to act out. Many more behave a certain way once in the foster system.

One thing that really helped the process was a monkey. Yep, I said it. A monkey and his name is George. Of course, he was stuffed, but that seemed to soothe the transition and helped Ty adjust to his new home. He slept with George every night and held him tightly in his tiny arms. Now he snuggles into his Spider-man bed with two stuffed animals and multiple cars.

“I think this was a sense of security for him. He had never had stability, and this one thing he could hold onto when he first came to our house,” my mom Melanie Tournier said.

My sister, Aaliyah Tournier, came up with a wonderful idea to help kids all over Iowa who have been removed from their homes and put into foster care. It’s called Furies 4 Fosters.

“We would like to help make foster children’s transition to foster homes a little more comfortable by giving them a new stuffed animal to hold onto,” Aaliyah said.

There is a facebook page developed by my parents, Darin and Melanie, and already there are comments of people who are wanting to donate stuffed animals for the kids in need of love.

“From the kids that have been through our home, we believe that having a stuffed animal has helped them feel a little better and gives kids a sense of security,” Melanie said.

Almost 520,000 kids end up in foster care each year, and each week nearly 60,000 children are reported as abused or neglected.

“I was scared and afraid, but I liked sleeping with George. He made me happy because he was soft,” Ty said.

November is National Adoption month, so organizations worldwide want to bring up awareness for the thousands of kids who are feeling abandoned and unloved. When donating stuffed animals to younger or older foster kids, you can ultimately change their lives.

Tiffany Guetzlaff, a DHS worker with the Iowa Department of Human Services, said that her job consists of providing case management services to families who have a child or children who have suffered abuse or neglect.

“We assist in identifying the needs of the family and coordinating effective services to help remedy the underlying issue(s) which brought the family to our attention. Many of the families we work with struggle with substance abuse and/or mental health issues.”

Often times there is domestic violence, homelessness, physical abuse or neglect. DHS also serves families who have been victims of sexual abuse, Guetzlaff said.

“If a child is in imminent danger, they may need to be removed from the home.”

Guetzlaff also said she thinks Furies 4 Fosters is a wonderful idea and will help so many kids when going through the trauma of being removed from their homes.

“And it is all the more incredible to know the idea behind Furies 4 Fosters came from a 12-year-old girl whose family has fostered several kiddos through DHS and recently adopted a little guy.  It provides a great example to people of all ages showing one small idea can make such a huge impact,” Guetzlaff said.

Those who would like to know more about Furies 4 Fosters can go to the facebook page. There have been two videos uploaded and more people are commenting on the page to donate new stuffed animals for this cause.

My sister has collected 20 stuffed animals, but her goal is 50 by the end of November.

Which stuffed animal are you going to place in a child’s arms?

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