Ever wonder about how your life might change if you became a foster parent? Making the decision is a big step, and it’s understandable that it might seem like a frightening prospect at first. But for those who decide to go for it, the experience is unlike any other. Check out how the lives of these people changed for the better after they became foster parents!
Mary and Henry
Mary and Henry have a love of children that overflows beyond their three biological children. Mary has worked at daycares for over 30 years, Henry has worked in both correctional facilities and counseling, and they both help teach children at their church as well. When a teen who is a friend of the family went into foster care, they decided to become foster parents and provide a safe, loving environment for her. Since then, they have cared for over 75 children needing foster care, ranging from infants to teenagers.
Mary and Henry say the greatest blessing of foster care is just putting a smile on a child’s face. One 10-year-old boy told Henry, “You’re the first father I ever really had,” which wowed him. They say that the children have experienced extreme stress such as physical or sexual abuse, neglect, or witnessing things as traumatic as a homicide. By loving, encouraging and talking to the children, they support them in their healing. Mary says she relates to the feeling of not having a mother or father since she lost her own mother at the age of 15. She says, “That opened my heart and gives me compassion for what kids are going through. Foster care is something I can do every day, 24/7, and I love it.” They are inspired by their pastor who himself was adopted and by the Bible’s call to “love one another.”
Their biological kids love fostering too. Lisa says that she is the youngest among her biological siblings, but gets to be the oldest among their children in foster care in their home. She plays games with them and helps them make memories. “Every child needs a chance at happiness and joy,” Mary says. “It can be scary to be taken from your parents. If we can love just one child, it was worth us doing foster care.”
Barbie and Patrick
When Barbie and Patrick married, they knew they wanted to adopt children from foster care. They adopted a brother and sister in need of a forever family. A few years later when their children were older and felt comfortable with the idea, they decided to provide temporary foster care to other children whose families were working on a safe reunification. So far, they have cared for over 100 children and teens for short stays, long-term stays, respite care (weekends) and other needs.
Patrick gives adults considering foster parenting a realistic perspective on what it’s like. “In the beginning, it can be tougher than you expect. Each child has been through a lot. It takes a lot of patience.” But he says it’s worth it. “The reward is watching the kids grow and change.” Barbie loves going to KVC’s annual conference for foster families where she gets hugs from youth she’s cared for in the past. They have good memories of being at her home and know they can always count on her.
Barbie and the kids in the home prepare a gift basket for each new child so they will feel welcome from the start. The basket may include coloring books, crayons, a stress ball, a small gift like perfume or cologne, or hygiene items such as soap and shampoo. To those thinking about foster parenting, Barbie says, “Just do it. Just try it. It may be your niche in life. And there are a lot of kids who need the help.”
Misty has been a foster parent with KVC since 2010. She is currently caring for two infants with special needs and has researched both of the children’s conditions in order to better understand how to care for them. With the knowledge she has gained, Misty has been able to advocate for the children to receive needed treatment at different behavioral and developmental clinics. She is also caring for a teenage girl who is getting ready to attend college. Misty has been a huge support to the teen, helping her enroll in college, apply for financial aid and buy her first car. She wants the very best for the children that she cares for and participates in all doctor appointments and meetings for each child.
The need for caring, compassionate people willing to become a foster parent in West Virginia is greater than ever. Download this free offer for more stories about people who decided to foster. You’ll learn how people from different backgrounds and situations can foster and the wonderful life-changing experiences people have gone through by deciding to foster.