Letter 5 November 26, 2013

My family and I have been fostering for 15 years. We had a biological child who was severely and chronically Ill and spent a great deal of her 6 years in the hospital during which time we saw countless sick children abandoned by parents who COULD not or WOULD not care for them. This was heartbreaking to see and after we lost our precious girl we decided to pay the gift forward that we were given by her and help other little ones. We became a medical home. During this time we have never cared for a “normal” child, there are no normal children in care because to come into care in the first place they have to have been through some sort of trauma, illness or exposure. Kids in healthy homes with healthy parents are not randomly selected to be brought into care! The babes that have come into our home have been exceptionally broken when they came to us. We have had baby born with intestines outside of her body, a stroke baby, a baby born in the toilet in jail, babies born extremely premature after being exposed to drugs and alcohol every day of the pregnancy, a baby missing a limb, a near drowning and many others with many other issues. We have had feeding pumps, oxygen, broviac care, heparin shots, suction equipment and health monitors to mention a few of the things in our home. A particular little girl came to us with profound brain damage due to prenatal exposure weighing 24 lbs at the age of 5 1/2 obviously suffering severe malnutrition. After months of loving her unconditionally and getting her on the road to good health this child died of a massive seizure while in foster care-while in OUR care! Yes–a statistic! This was devastating to all involved but we had the satisfaction of knowing that when she came to us we were told she was incapable of even smiling, we had her not only smiling but laughing!! We were able to give her a wonderful and happy end of her life which is what made it all worth while!

To become and maintain a foster home we have to take training, open our homes, our private lives and our bio children’s lives to many people to be commented on, scrutinized and talked about. We love unconditionally, our children share their home, their parents, their grandparents and their whole wide world with the children we bring into their life. We must take regular training and undergo annual inspections and evaluations. We advocate constantly, fighting the battles for these kids to have the best life possible! While friends in our age group have spotless homes and “nice” things with their children moved out we have a very lived in home and still use plastic and unbreakable dishes and have beat up furniture that we are constantly replacing. HOWEVER there is nothing in this world more satisfying than going to bed each and every night knowing that you were able to make a little life better.

My husband and I represent fostering within our community in a positive way, we have done mentoring, parent panels, trained others and reached out. We’ve had good relationships with the kids biological families and even taken them under our wing at times. I can’t believe how blessed we’ve been by meeting through our fostering world the most amazing, selfless, warm and fun people–truly exceptional people!! We’re so proud to be a part of such a great group!