Did you know May is National Foster Care Month? Recently Virginia Governor McDonnell issued a proclamation recognizing May, 2013 as Foster Care Month in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This was followed by a new initiative to encourage adoptions called “Virginia Adopts: Campaign for 1,000”.  To help share information about Foster Care a local organization that serves Harrisonburg foster and adoptive families shared a story from one of their Foster Parents with MRL.
Foster Parenting: A Parent’s Insight
“It makes it worth it to know you’ve been able to be a part of their healing.”
When asked, “Why did you become foster parents?” this is the response given by a family who has opened their home to over 10 children in the last three years. Has it always been easy? No. In fact, they shared stories of hardships, hard choices, and tears. But as the stories unraveled, they were also well seasoned with hugs, “I love yous,” healing, and happiness.
Their story starts with an ad in the local newspaper calling out to people to open their hearts and homes to children in need. When the husband saw this ad in the newspaper, he shared it with his wife. He wasn’t sure exactly what it was about the ad, but it spoke to him, and he thought it would also speak to his wife. He was right. Their three boys were growing up and the house was feeling a little too quiet, so they thought about it. They talked it over for a few weeks, agreed it was something they were both interested in pursuing, and the couple’s journey as foster parents began.
They happily went through the process of becoming foster parents with the help and guidance of our organizations Branch Director. Shortly thereafter, they received their first foster child, an elementary school-aged boy with some pretty significant special needs. He had been removed due to abuse in his home and needed a safe loving home to begin his healing while his mother received the help she needed. In the meantime, the foster parents fell in love with this little boy and had hopes of adoption. As the foster care system tries to do whenever possible, this little boy was able to be returned to his mother. The crush of that blow almost pushed them out of foster parenting, but the pull of the love of children and the rewards that come from helping continued their journey as foster parents.
When sharing your life, it can take awhile for the children to open up. Some children lived with them for almost a year before showing any signs of affection or feeling comfortable receiving affection. The foster parents say that one of the important things their social worker has done is helped them realize how some of the small things the kids do are huge steps emotionally toward their healing.
The foster mother stated, ‘It does get overwhelming and crazy but not to the point of giving up. It’s all worth it.”’ “Everyone needs to feel needed and wanted,” she continued. This statement is as true for the families as it is for the children. Being a foster parent changes so many lives, including one’s own. When asked what qualities a foster parent needs to be successful, the answer from this foster mother was “LOVE…compassion, patience and understanding. A lot of patience.”
May is National Foster Care Month – a time to make a lasting difference in a child’s life. There are about 382,400 American youth under the age of 18 in foster care. No matter how much time you have to give, you can do something positive that will "change a lifetime" for a young person in foster care. For more information on how you can help, please visit www.fostercaremonth.org today. Or check out the display at the main branch of MRL for some resources on Foster Care.
 Jeff Caldwell. “Govenor McDonnell to Launch ‘Virginia Adopts: Campaign for 1,000’ May 17 at the Executive Mansion” http://www.governor.virginia.gov/news/viewRelease.cfm?id=1806 (accessed May 20, 2013).
 "May is National Foster Care Month." http://www.fostercaremonth.org/ContactUs/LinkToUs/default.htm (accessed May 20, 2013).