Tonight is the first Foster Parent Friday here on my blog, and I figured there was no better interview to start with than one with my own mom! After all of the help she's always offering to me while I'm writing my posts, I thought that it would be great to let her voice be heard all on its own.
Do you do respite, short-term, or long-term care?
"All of the above. We're down for emergency/24 hour care too."
How many children have you taken in over that period of time?
Do you limit your care to a certain age group? If so, what ages do you take in?
"Yes, we take in birth through the year younger than my youngest child."
Have you ever adopted any children? If so, how many?
"Yes I have. I've adopted my five precious gifts."
Did you have any biological children when you started foster care? If so, how many? How old were they at the time?
"I had one two-year-old daughter when I started the process."
What were your biggest concerns as you started your foster care journey?
"Our biggest concerns were A. on the administrative side, having people delve into your personal life/finances to prepare for fostering. I thought it would be awkward having people reach into the most personal aspects of our lives, but I've worked with such wonderful people in DSS that they always made me feel comfortable, and I know they've always been extremely discreet in using the information they obtained. and B. I was afraid it would have a negative effect on my 3 year old daughter (you). After our very first placement I realized how great this experience actually was for you, and over the years, I've loved that MY children are always the ones at school standing up for victims of bullies, or befriending special needs children, of whom some children might be intimidated. MY children have learned to be open minded about others and accept everyone for who they are, no matter their capabilities, disabilities, race, religion, etc. I'm very proud that so far, my two oldest children have expressed an interest in helping others in the community as their career choices. And as I'm sure you can imagine, I'm so very proud of you for writing this blog and for writing your first novel, both of which may not have come about if it weren't for foster care in your life."
What is the biggest lesson you have learned from being a foster parent?
"The biggest lesson I have learned from being a foster parent is that I have more love inside of me than I would've ever thought imaginable. When I first gave birth to you, I never thought I could ever love anyone as much as I loved you. I was hesitant about having another child for fear I didn't have enough love to spread around. When we decided to do foster care, I worried about bonding with/loving these children. However, from our very first placement, I knew I was put on this Earth to do this, I fell in love immediately, and have continued to fall head-over-heels in love 19 times over. So the biggest lesson I have learned is that I can love more than I imagined, and each of my children, I realize have that capacity as well."
Is there anything you would change about your experience as a foster parent?
"The only thing I would change about my experience as a foster parent is, I wish I would've bought a bigger house so I could've had 50 children, instead of the 20 I raised."
Do you have any words of wisdom for future or new foster parents?
"My words of wisdom for new foster parents are: Don't worry so much about letting some children go back to their bio parents. That's all I've heard for 18 years, that people would love to do fostering, but would have a hard time giving the children back. My family is not made of stone, of course it's difficult to give children back, and we've cried many times over after losing children. The one thing that keeps us going is, to be honest, my own children. Going back to when I had just one child and we considered stopping the foster care journey when we were so terribly broken to have our first placements return home. It was you, Taylor, that reminded us of why we began this journey in the first place....to help children in need, and to be their advocate and their support, and their cheer section, when they had no one else to be that for them. Each time we lose a child, we always take a family vote to make sure everyone's voice is heard and that everyone fully wants to participate in continuing the foster care journey. We give the foster children love, cuddles, band-aids, discipline, lessons, laughter, music, play, socialization, routine, and most of all, the wonderful experience of being a part of a true family, with all its warts and all its glory. For some of these children, it will be the only time they have that experience, for others, it will give them a standard of what is acceptable behavior in a family & teach them not to tolerate being abused as they get older and have a voice of their own. For others, it will teach them what they want their own family to be like when they become adults. Our family, by no means, is perfect, I've never claimed to be a perfect mom, but the one thing we do perfectly is love each other......even when one of us is not willing to accept the love at times, no matter, we're family for life, and whenever they're ready, we'll always be here with open arms. That's what future foster parents need to know, you don't need to be perfect, you just need to care enough to be a support system and a voice for these children for a long as they need you. Believe me it will change your life for the better, no matter what your experience!"
Are you a foster parent who is interested in doing an interview for Foster Parent Fridays? Send me a message through my Contact page and I'll give you the details! I'm looking forward to sharing more interviews in the future to showcase the perspectives of other foster parents!
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