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May 2023Vol. 24, No. 4Foster Ubuntu, A Message From Aysha E. Schomburg

Written by Associate Commissioner Aysha E. Schomburg

In my CBX message from December 2021, I wrote that my best friend was going to have a baby, and I shared the feelings I was experiencing about how I would love and protect the baby “infinitely.” I wrote that I wanted to shower him with “a lifetime of familial closeness and an unshakeable foundation.” It is still so true. In a few days, my godson will turn 16 months. He is vibrant, animated, and full of life. He brings all of us the kind of joy in our hearts that only a child can bring to the surface—that magical feeling that makes us believe our hearts are beating so merrily that they’re actually bubbling.

My best friend is also a full-time single mom and working physician, and she needs help. We support her and make sure that she has what she needs so that her son can have what he needs. For example, when his mom needs rest, he spends the night with me so that she can sleep in or take naps. In other words, she needs respite so she can reenergize. Respite helps her be a great parent. As part of her circle, we support her in something as simple as getting rest.

May has been designated National Foster Care Month, a time when we can purposefully celebrate those who open their hearts to children, youth, and young adults; those who know the joyous feeling of a bubbling heart; those who have experienced the magic; and those who wield it. We can celebrate what, in my mind, is the true definition of foster care—to love, help, support, and connect people. We celebrate dedicated, loving parents who face and overcome adversity. We celebrate nurturing resource parents and kin caregivers. We celebrate children, youth, and young adults who have stared trauma in the face and who still have the heart to keep going. We celebrate the magic that lives in extended family and community members who wrap their arms around families, whether for a lifetime or only for the right time. We celebrate this notion of all for all. We celebrate Ubuntu.

“Ubuntu” is an African word that can be translated to mean “humanity to others” or “I am because we are.” Some of the principles or values of Ubuntu include communality, respect, dignity, acceptance, sharing, coresponsibility, humaneness, fairness, compassion, and love. Ubuntu represents what all families and children need—a strong foundation, familial closeness and togetherness, and community. What if Ubuntu is the magic we can wield? How can we foster Ubuntu to support parents, resource parents, kin caregivers, and young adults?

This month, I invite you to join me in choosing one of the values of Ubuntu and demonstrating that principle in your daily life. To demonstrate is an action, which means I am inviting you to display that value through your actions. For National Foster Care Month, let’s celebrate and purposefully live and share the values of Ubuntu.