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I waited to go back to work until my oldest son was 10. He was so curious about where I went, what I was doing - he really wanted to be involved. The agency I work for advocates on behalf of abused and neglected children in foster care in my county - a subject difficult to explain or discuss with anyone, much less a child. For as long as I could, I only talked to him about the office, the events we had, and I left out the details of the children.

Finally, one day, my smart cookie asked me what all that money I raised was going to do. I told him that the children with which my agency worked were abused or neglected. I explained that not all moms and dads were able to take care of their children. I explained that some of them beat their children, some of them sold their children for drugs, some of them left their children alone for days and some of them were just too sick to know how to take care of a child. And some of them did worse. I told him that if it was really bad and the child wasn't safe, the child was taken out of their home. If there isn't anyone else - aunts, brothers, sisters, grandfathers - to take care of the children, they go live with another family.

"So they belong to THAT family then, right?" he asked.

I had to tell him no.

Unless that family was going to adopt them, they don't really belong to that family. If they move enough, the only one they belong to is themselves. "They don't really belong to anyone then, honey. That's why it's so important to help them."

"No, Mom," he said, "They don't belong to anyone, they belong to EVERYONE."

And he, of course, is right.

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