I make my living as a lawyer, but what I do is take care of other people’s children. For more than 40 years, I have been working with traumatized children, starting when I was a preteen helping my parents with their summer camp and church ministries. In the years since, I have served as a juvenile court probation officer/social worker, group home parent, criminal prosecutor, non-profit volunteer and Board member, and attorney defending youth-serving organizations.
My most important roles have been foster parent and stepparent. I never had biological children, but I have managed to collect 7 children and 8 grandchildren. Along the way, my foster children, stepchildren, and grandchildren have taught me the life lessons that are the core of my speaking and writing — the lessons that I wish I could have learned from a parenting manual rather than trial and error.
I never intended to help raise so many children. I started in social work, burned out, and went to law school. I did not fall in love until my 40s, when I finally married. In the interim, I channeled my social worker passion into volunteering with youth organizations and fostering abused children and teenagers. I deliberately never kept count of how many children I fostered in short-term placements, but two teenage girls stayed with me long-term and became part of my family.