I don’t often feature Romance authors here, but am happy to welcome Judith McNees, because the story behind her novel touches me. She’s out to make a difference in this old world! Hope you enjoy A HEART TO CHERISH. AND Judith is offering a free e-book to one commenter here.
The first seeds for the character Julia in A Heart to Cherish began to form in my mind back in 2011 when my husband and I went through foster parent training. In one of the classes, we listened to a panel of foster parents and former foster youth talk about different aspects of the foster care system.
The thing that stuck out to me the most from that experience was hearing just how many children “age out” of foster care without being adopted. Perhaps I’d been naïve to think that, on the whole, the system was working. That day, my paradigm changed, and I realized that young people were leaving foster care by the thousands with no support system behind them.
Writing what I’m passionate about comes naturally, so when I got the stirring in my heart to write a novel last summer, having a character who was a former foster youth was an obvious choice for me. I wanted Julia to be a character who would show how heartbreaking it can be to grow up in this system but also leave my readers with a sense of hope. The love she experiences in her new “found family” helps her to grow beyond the loss and abandonment she went through many times over as an orphan and a foster child.
Just like Julia, it is very common for teens who “age out” of foster care to become homeless, and well over half of the girls become pregnant by the time they are twenty-one. Like Julia, more than half of them experience difficulties finding gainful employment by the time they are twenty-four. Though many of these teens report a desire to go on to college, as many as one quarter of them will fail to even graduate high school due to the number of times they have to switch schools as well as other problems that make it difficult to finish.
I’m very thankful for my own journey with foster care and adoption and the things I’ve learned along the way. It is my hope that, through Julia’s story, others will be encouraged to find their own ways to help as well.