She loves kids, and that’s why she’s always dreamed of working with them. The drive to create a better world for them. The wish that each and every child can live and thrive within a secure, supportive, and loving environment. The passion to reunite families and give them the support that they need to continue loving each other as families should.

That’s why she picked this career. Studying social work created some very big expectations, the least of which being to help, perhaps ‘rescue’, each and every troubled family that comes her way. She dreamed of a father bringing her a large bouquet of flowers to thank her for rebuilding and reuniting their broken family. She was even more motivated by the fact that she will be surrounded by co-workers who share in her passions. Yes, challenges will come, and yes sometimes she will fail. But the good will always outway the bad – there would always be flowers in their office.

A few years into the job and she thinks back to her first few months as a real social worker. It hadn’t turned out the way she had dreamed. Instead of being welcomed into homes with tear-filled eyes, doors were slammed. Their eyes weren’t the only filled with tears. Instead of children running towards her with out-stretched arms and clinging to her legs for comfort, the children ran away into the bushes screaming. Social workers may have been called to be guardian angels, but people didn’t seem to believe in angels anymore.
After a particularly tough day of removing brothers from their parents, she gently rubbed her bruises and wondered why they were so scared of her. She never made any scary faces, she never shouted at anyone. Sometimes she scrunched her face up, but that wasn’t because of the bad smell but because she was trying to hold back her tears. And as she was cleaning the scratches on her arms, it hit her. They don’t think they’re being saved, they think they’re being stolen. They don’t realize that she is going to do everything in her power to bring them back home. They don’t understand that that is her mission in life – to rebuild and reunite families. They don’t understand.

It was after that realization that the job became a little bit tougher. She soon noticed that her co-workers were feeling the same way. Maybe that’s why three out of the five social workers in her office were receiving counselling for burn-out and various traumas experienced on the job. It’s one thing running into one of the parents you took a child away from in the local grocery store. It’s another when they follow you with a rusted pipe and start beating your car with it.

As she sinks into her bed and pulls the covers right up to her chin, she again finds herself asking the same questions she asks almost every week. Why do I keep doing this? Am I really doing any good? Sure. How can someone who sends kids running and screaming really be doing any good? Why do I keep doing this?

The answer always comes unexpectedly. She’s already forgotten she’s been asking it again when she pulls up to the house. It’s the second visit since she removed these kids from their parents and placed them with their foster parents. She’s been worried about them for weeks; they were angry, confused, and a greater flight-risk than others. They were the kind that kept her up at night waiting for the foster parents to phone, panic-stricken. But here she was, weeks had passed and not one midnight phone call. She couldn’t help it, she felt the tickle of optimism pull at the corners of her mouth. When the door swung open, one of the foster kids stood there with a shy smile. He didn’t run, and he didn’t scream. His foster mom came up, put her hand on the boy’s shoulder, and invited her inside.

It had been a rough start, but after a while their biological children had won over the foster brothers. One of their bedrooms had been turned into a huge blanket fort where all the kids slept together, the other room had been turned into a toy-storage room. The foster kids had learned how to eat at the table – knives and forks and all. They were clean, fed, and most importantly: loved. Their life wasn’t perfect, but it was happy.

That visit had been one of the best that month. The kids were running around playing and laughing, and the eldest even came up and gave her a flower. Tonight that flower was going to be pressed and added to the small collection she keeps in her Bible.

That’s why she does it. It’s her calling, it’s her passion – it’s her life. She starts everyday thinking about those flowers and dreaming of the day she gets to add another to her collection. It was never really about the big, colourful bouquets, after all. It was always about preserving the small, slightly crumpled flowers.