MIAGD: Foster Bags

MIAGD: Make it a great day

Foster bags.

They accompany foster children on their Tour: a tour of moving from one foster home, or group home, to another.

Each son came with a TON of bags. Many, many, many back packs.  Many, many, many strap-handled bags. Even garbage bags filled with all their clothes or worldly possessions.

We have an area in the basement we call the “wall of bags.”  All the back packs and bags are hung on this wall.  Some bags have been repurposed, others have been there since we moved to The Haasienda fourteen years ago.

I discovered several large duffle bags Griffith had not unpacked.  I figured I would find more clothes.  Nope.  More BAGS!  There were a total of 16 new bags – 6 back packs, and other bags.

In the foster world, bags are a much desired, much use commodity.  Sometimes social workers bring joy-filled bags to their charges.  The items may have been discarded, but each foster child seems to understand a bag is never discarded.  Organizations or churches will often donate bags, and even fill them with nifty age-grouped items.

The foster children love these bags.  These bags are often their treasure chest where their favorite items are kept.

They also learn these bags are most often used to transport all their clothes, and worldly possessions to their next foster home.

Some sons returned to the foster home after school to discover these bags already packed, ready to be hauled to their new foster home. More often, than not, there were many garbage bags also filled with their worldly possessions.

This morning I stood looking at the “wall of bags.” Memories:

  • Josh’s green duffle bag he’d gotten at Miss Hattie’s
  • Matt’s blue duffle bag from a Texas foster children’s party
  • Jose’s brown bag Shelley had used to help him pack for the trip from Oregon to Ohio
  • Quintin’s red bag that his Grandma Rose had given him before leaving the Navajo reservation
  • Griffith’s bag from the Baptist children’s home where he and his brother were kept for several years
  • Oh!  And bags that arrived with 8-10 foster sons that escaped another tour
  • And, of course, there were more, always more, bags of every shape, size, and color.


Although the bags hang empty on the “wall of bags,” they are filled with so much more.

Bags filled with anger…

Bags filled with distrust…

Bags filled with hurt and pain….

Bags filled with fear…

Bags filled with anxiety…

Bags filled with hatred for their birth family…  this bag often becomes idealized: “They weren’t so bad…”

Bags filled with depression…

Bags filled with callouses, a survival skill learned too early in life…

Bags filled with isolation…

Bags filled with nightmares of physical, mental, and emotional abuse…

Bags filled with days, even weeks of knowing hunger… 

Bags filled with tears turned into needs of survival…

Bags filled with pride, refusing to acknowledge, or accept a kind hand, or gift from others…

And always, bags filled with more anger of abandonment – always, always the fear of rejection at every turn…

The “wall of bags” has been greatly altered.

In my driveway are several garbage bags filled with bags.  Most of Griffith’s bags remain; many have been tossed, and I am confident he won’t miss them.  Yes, I should have, or could have donated 70+ bags to Goodwill, or some organization that could have repurposed them.  I am not.

These bags are hideous reminders of how birth families failed my sons.  These bags are hideous reminders of how the foster system failed my sons.  These bags resulted from bad choices made by adults in their young lives.

These touring Foster Bags were vital at one point, but eventually they seem to represent more storage for the mental and emotional baggage that always accompanies them.

Make it a great day, Folks!



About Wright Flyer Guy

Darin is a single adoptive father, a teacher, playwright, and musical theatre director from Kettering, Ohio.
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