By Michelle Eppinger
My daughter asked if we could take in foster children. My parents fostered when I was young. I have a friend who had a horrible experience as a foster child. These are just a few reasons my husband and I considered being foster parents.
There are so many children who, due to no fault of their own, need support and care. Some are homeless or victims of domestic violence, malnourished, or neglected–so many reasons that would make anyone, I feel, want to help. These kids need to know they are worthy, wonderful little people (or not so little!). Their past does not define them. They can still grow up to learn, care, create, and become wonderful individuals.
My family consists of myself, my husband, and three children ages 13, 11, and 8, and my mother. We have been fostering for just over two years and the benefits so outweigh the rest. We have fostered a total of seven children and have done respite for two others.
Our first two foster children were 4 and 6-year-old brothers. We felt very fortunate at first that they seemed so well adjusted. We learned that once they feel comfortable with you any foster child may have some unexpected issues. We dealt with repeated lice after visits with Mom. We saw destruction of personal property due to temper tantrums. When one boy went home to his father, his brother (who had a different dad) started having chronic temper tantrums. Then we were asked to take in his little brother and sister, ages 2 and 3.
At first, we said no. Their brother was finally doing well, and he was starting school. After some discussion we eventually changed our minds and said yes. Even though there were some setbacks, we are glad that we did. All three were reunified with their Mom and Dad seven months later. I hear they are doing very well.
A month after they were reunified, we were asked to take in three more siblings. These children were ages 4, 9, and 10. Even though they knew why they had come into care, they repeatedly asked why and when they could go home. Our answer was always, “When the courts say.”
On a good note these three got along with our children–like siblings. Their schoolwork improved, their hygiene improved, their diet improved immensely. At first, our home and house rules were a shock to their system. We have no TV upstairs, and do not allow any TV on school days. Even on days off from school and over summer break TV viewing is very limited. We enforced and assisted with homework being done, reading every day, and eating healthy snacks and meals.
The siblings’ Mom worked hard on reunification, and they returned home seven months after they were placed with us. It happened a little faster than we had anticipated. We are still in touch with them and got to visit them. We’ve grown to love these kids and wish the whole family well.
We have been very fortunate and have nothing but positive things to say about Spurwink and the people we’ve worked with so far. Spurwink’s two-day CARE training this past summer was great! They even included childcare and the kids had a fantastic time.
Patty, our case manager, was and still is there for us and answers any questions we have. Even on her days off she would answer questions instead of waiting until Monday. When we had a crisis moment she was there with support and care, numbers of her supervisor, crisis support, and any other relevant information we needed. We have also been contacted by a family support specialist and can call or email her with any questions or concerns.
We have decided as a family to continue to foster children. We feel they are good and worthy children coming into the system through no fault of their own. The pros outweigh the cons. My son loves having new friends to play and share with. My daughters each have their own way of helping us and the foster children.
We hope that children placed in our care will feel safe, loved, and nurtured while here. We want them to leave with a strong base and the knowledge that they can succeed.
I encourage anyone who has ever thought about being a foster parent or adopting to please contact Spurwink at www.spurwink.org/foster-care. So many children need our love and support.