I am so fortunate to have had foster parents who never gave up on me. They believed in family. My foster parents were very special to me, although being the hell-raiser I was it wasn’t always obvious. I do consider them my mom and dad. They have earned it! I have an undying gratitude for what they did for me. They were both teachers and devoted their time to helping me grow, both mentally and emotionally. Their love for children was expressed in the size of the family they had. When I joined, there were five children. Later on it became a family of nine, including their own kids and other long-term foster children.
They were extremely patient and proved that they loved me unconditionally, but man! – I was constantly testing the limits of that unconditional love. No doubt it was tested to the extreme. I was definitely a handful with my behavioral and emotional problems, and they had to endure far more than what was expected of them as foster parents. They have done their duty with love, and have earned my respect. I call them my Mom and Dad because they never gave up on me. For me, love is thicker than blood.
I could go on and on about the many times I got into trouble for yelling profanities at my parents or getting into fights with teachers, church leaders, and other adults. But that would be a book in itself. All that’s left to say is that I am eternally grateful to my foster Mom and Dad for never giving up hope on me. They never changed the locks on the front door or told the social worker to take me away. They serve as great examples of love and patience, enduring as they did the hard times which inevitably come when raising a grieving little kid that went through so much abuse and trauma. They didn’t have to keep me. I wasn’t adoptable, so they could have given up on me at any time. But instead they chose to never give up on me, even when I gave them hell. They always shot back with a love that came from deep within their hearts, proving that love has the power to overcome the negative in any situation. Thank you so much Mom and Dad!
I wrote this song “I love my foster mom and dad” as a dedication to all of the foster and adoptive parents who love with all of their heart.
Derek Clark’s story is one of resilience and redemption. Derek spent 13 years in the foster care system. Before entering foster care, Derek suffered unthinkable child abuse, abandonment and emotional distress. Derek knows first hand on how to cope with adversity and overcoming hardship. His past reflects a life of humiliation, aggression, emotional distress and overwhelming anxiety. He has experienced the life of rejection, fear, suffered atrocious abuse from his biological parents and endured endless grief. Despite years of rage and fractured relationships, Derek grew up to become a successful businessman, motivational speaker and is highly committed to his wife and four children.
Watch Motivational Speaker and Foster Care Speaker Derek Clark’s Inspiring TED Talk.
At five years old Derek’s mother and stepfather turned him over to the county social services but kept his brother and sister. Derek felt as if he had been deleted from his family. His father was in prison for the criminally insane. Psychiatric reports stated that at the age of five years old, Derek had severe behavioral problems and fascinations of extreme violence and death. Neurological reports stated that at six years old, he had the IQ of a two and a half year old and diagnosed him with erratic psychosis and overtly psychotic. Having also been misdiagnosed as mentally handicapped and having numerous emotional and language difficulties, Derek never gave up. With the help of his loving foster parents, a fantastic social worker and mentors, he defied the artificial limitations imposed upon him. His past has never held Derek back from accomplishing what he set his heart and mind to. From owning a very successful corporation to having a family, his maxim is to make no excuses.
Derek Clark is an inspiring motivational speaker, trainer and the author of Disable the Label: Never Limit the Potential of a Child, Never Limit Your Life and the I Will Never Give Up book series. His true-life trials and personal triumphs have inspired organizations throughout the United States, Mexico, Australia and Canada with his powerful message of hope and unwavering perseverance.
Derek’s motivational speeches have rejuvenated the hearts of audiences worldwide. He has delivered inspiring conference keynote speeches to:
Australia National Foster Care and Kinship Care Conference
TEDx California – Independently Organized TED Event
International Foster Care Organization -IFCO World Conference
Ohio Supreme Court Intercourt Conference
National Eligibility Workers Association – California State Chapter Conference
Juvenile Court, Community and Alternative School Administrators of California State Conference
Milton Hershey School
Court Improvement Summit
Mexico City – Colegio Anglo Mexicano De Coyoacan Preparatory High School for National Autonomous University of Mexico
California Association of Probation Services Administrators State Conference
Federal Bureau of Prisons Conference
Ministry of Canada Crown Ward Conference
Circuit Court Conference
IFCO – International Foster Care Organization
National Foster Parent Association Conference
Federal Department of Labor
National Bureau Prisons Conference
and many child welfare conferences
As a popular and engaging conference keynote speaker, he has been hired by many federal, state and county departments to rejuvenate and train employees, educators, social workers, foster parents, child welfare workers, judges, attorneys, teachers, juvenile justice, non profits and many more organizations.
Derek Clark offers professionals involved with kids in the foster care system hope, stamina and the courage to improve ‘the system’. Derek trains and inspires professionals with this purpose; to make sure that each child feels important, to help them to reclaim their dignity, to feel secure, and to know that their past does not have to infect their future. Derek’s inspiring presentations are sure to touch the heart of every foster parent and child welfare professional.
When Derek speaks, it is from his passionate soul. He brings along his guitar to sing the journals of his life. He believes that music is one of the purest ways to touch and communicate with the hearts of the audience. His audience will be ignited with passion and have the courage to take action and fight their fears. He will inspire and teach you to push yourself beyond your perceived limits. The story of Derek’s life is truly amazing. Even against unbelievable odds, Derek never gave up. Derek’s presentations have an informative message of hope and perseverance. His mission is to help others find strength and solutions for their own lives.
Outline of Motivational Speaker Derek Clark’s Foster Care Topics:
- · You Cannot Think Negative About a Child and Expect a Positive Outcome
- · If You Will Believe, The Child/Youth Will Achieve!
- · How To Build Trust, When They Won’t Trust
- From Rejection to Connection to Direction
- · How To Inspire Youth to Find the Strength to Overcome Adversity
- · How To Plant Seeds of Courage In a Child’s Mind
- · Why a Foster Child or a Troubled Youth Needs YOU To Believe In Them
- · How Having Hope Activates Life For Those In Despair
- · The Worth of a Soul and How To Find The Leader Within
- · How Words and Labels Kill The Spirit of a Child
- · How To Help a Child Discover The Will To Thrive Despite a Painful Past
Find out more about motivational foster care speaker Derek Clark at his main website www.IWillNeverGiveUp.com