Dec 20, 2021, 08:00am EST
Afdhel Aziz, Forbes.com Contributor
Sydney Steinger is the remarkable 17 year old founder of AChildsHome.Org, where she places needy children in adopted or fostered homes.
She founded the non-profit after her family adopted her mother’s best friend’s daughter after she passed away in a tragic accident.
I caught up with this inspiring teen from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, to find out more about her journey.
Afdhel Aziz: Hi Sydney, welcome. Please tell us a little bit about A Childs Home and what it does?
Sydney Steinger: A Child’s Home, the non-profit organization I founded last year, originated out of a problem I saw growing every day: the drastic need for foster parents of children whose lives had been upended by the pandemic. My first step was to meet with the Florida Department of Children and Families, ChildNet, and Speak Up for Kids, all to get a clearer understanding of the issue and how my organization could help. Then, I met with various philanthropic entities in my area to fundraise and bring more awareness to the problem. I used the money we raised to educate parents in our community about the joys of fostering and adopting, especially in this frighteningly unique time. Eventually, the mission of A Child’s Home grew to include both online videos and local television broadcasts. I interviewed abandoned children, foster kids with disabilities, newly adoptive parents, and experts in the field. And every Tuesday, I deliver my work to WFLX only to watch it on the ten o’clock news the next day. If I can help even just one child find a forever home it will have been enough.
Aziz: How did this amazing project start?
Steinger: This project started out of my own personal experience with adoption. A few years ago my mother’s best friend was pronounced brain dead after a tragic accident. She left behind her 12-year-old daughter, Isabella. In the whirlwind that followed Bella’s mom’s death, a decision was made that the best place for Bella was with our family. But despite my expectations, it wasn’t a smooth transition. Instead of days spent doing make-up, talking about boys, and playing dress-up, we spent them in grief counseling and trying desperately to find a new normal. I was exposed to the raw world of foster care and adoption and children who weren’t as lucky as Bella to have someone familiar to go to. Until then, I was unaware of this problem and its urgency, even within my own community. Soon, I felt confident enough to take action, to do my own part in helping. I created a non-profit organization called A Child’s Home, to bring awareness to fostering and adoption. It’s an extremely gratifying experience that not only helped me get a better handle on the chaos of my home life, but also the mayhem of the wider world.
Aziz: Why is this work so important to you?
Steinger: This work has a special place in my heart. It evolved out of the need I witnessed firsthand in my own home. Although my sister’s transition through being adopted seemed simple compared to most I’ve now seen, the transition was not easy. I began to view this on a wider scale while still grappling with my new normal at home and recognized other children around me going through the same thing. I searched for anything I could find regarding children going through foster care and adoption in my area, and the news coverage was minimal. Oftentimes when I turned on the news I saw awareness for different local businesses, organizations, and community needs, yet the most prominent need was never featured. Bringing awareness towards foster care and adoption has allowed me to meet the most amazing people right here in my community while not only helping me get a better handle on the chaos of my home life, but also the mayhem of the wider world. Four years ago, I began to grapple with the challenges of expanding my family, but the events that came after taught me that even when things seem uncontrollable, they are – in fact – not at all. And these experiences that in the moment may seem uncontrollable, can lead to new experiences towards helping others. Of course, my family isn’t perfect. We fight, we cry, we mourn. But I now know I always have agency. I always have the power to make the situation better for myself and those around me.
Aziz: What are some of the stories of kids you’ve helped?
Steinger: I began meeting with local organizations and eventually families and children firsthand who would share their personal stories. One of the most inspirational children I’ve met through A Child’s Home, was Seth. Seth Forbes was born into the foster care system at 27 weeks with his brain growing outside of his skull. As he entered the Forbes family he underwent many surgeries and eventually defied all odds that he would never walk or simply function. When I visited Seth’s home, I was unaware that I would be meeting any of Savatrie Forbes’s children. Not only did he approach me excitedly, but he even wanted to show off his skill of singing. He sang in front of the camera multiple times and even held my hand to give me a tour of the house and introduced me to the other children in the home, a two-year-old and an 11-year-old who were confined to beds themselves due to medical needs. Seth was eager to show me his bike and even asked me to ride with him. We spent time racing together on his bikes as he was preparing for his race in the Special Olympics. Although I was not expecting my encounter with Seth, it is one that I will remember forever. Seth is a vibrant, energetic child who defied all odds and was just happy to have someone there to serve as an audience for his singing performance and ride bikes with him.
Aziz: Finally, how can brands and companies help support your work?
Steinger: I think brands and companies hold so much influential power – most of them are important parts of people’s daily lives. That kind of power and reach can help us make more people aware that there’s a major need for help. It would be amazing if those brands and companies joined forces with A Child’s Home to advocate for adoption and foster care.