Some Special 17 year olds are looking for a role model.

If you have been involved with auto service (and all the related fields) for any amount of time, finding and keeping good help is always near the top of the list. When I travel and present classes around our great country, I included a slide that speaks to the plight of American foster children. First the chilling numbers. Over ½ million American kids have been removed from their homes for their own safety. Once their parents get their problems under control, their kids can return to a safe and loving home. About 130,000 have had gone through this process but the family is so broken they are removed permanently from their homes and are in need for new families. 29,000 of these kids will never get adopted and will age out of the foster care system at eighteen without being attached to a family of their own. Those are the facts, as sad as they are. Each year it gets worse. You can help. Boys in foster homes over 10 years old have few chances of having a forever family.


The Van Batenburg Family Reunion in 1997. Mike is on the bike.

When Deb and I found out in 1992 that we could not conceive our own children, we were sad, mad, frustrated and lost. After some real soul searching and an education in all types of adoption, it was clear to us there were kids in our area that really needed parents, a home, love, family, discipline, and a future. We didn’t need to go outside the USA to help a child find a home, there were plenty right here.

At the same time Deb and I were working at Van Batenburg’s Garage and preparing a home for what would be two foster/adoptions. Michael was first at age 5. We took him in as our own, adopted Mike and started our family. Will was next at age 15. Now the boys are 30 and 24. Mike is doing well after some very rough times. Will still has lots of issues. It was more than worth it. We didn’t need baby pictures; we just wanted to be parents. Deb and I knew we could do a good job.

At Van Batenburg’s Garage, Mike and Will helped with trash, cleaned up, worked on company vehicles, and did some paper work. Recently Mike and I are working on a 2008 Honda Civic. Working with my sons added more than just a cleaner shop. It helped them learn, helped them develop skills they will need to succeed in the real world, a not so nice place at times. Both of my sons know how tough the world can be and learned at much too young of an age. What they need now is to learn survival and success skills. Fixing cars can do that.

I have an idea. You have been dealing with bad behaviors for a long time. You already know what to do keep young people in line. With the shortage of help at your shop and foster kids needing a home, why not learn more about these teenagers that live in your town, visit with them and offer them a job, a future and maybe even a home. There is more to life than work. Why not make your career a place for foster kids too? What to know more check out FAAT CATS.

Craig Van Batenburg