When I was younger, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to help people. My heart was always drawn to the world of foster parenting.
My journey began after I earned my college degree and lived in an apartment in town. I felt as though I couldn’t be a proper foster parent by raising a child in an apartment. So, I decided to find a way to have a house. Once the house was built, I immediately applied to be a foster parent. I became a registered foster parent in 2009.
It was really happening, my dream was coming true. I began to prepare a room, filling the walls with decorations and dressing the bed in comfortable blankets. One week and surely this room would be a home. A week passed by and no response. Two months passed by and still no child. I waited and waited for what seemed like forever. Then suddenly, eight months later, the foster care program called and informed me that I would be welcoming a 17-year-old girl and her three-month-old child into my home.
Although excited, I was incredibly confused. I had specifically requested a child no older than 13 and preferably a male aged two to five. This was not what I had dreamed, but they were at my house, and I was not going to be another person to close a door. (This case was a bit unusual because I had known the mother when she was a little girl)
She and her baby lived with me for about a year, and they moved out when she was 18. This was probably a good way to start my career in foster parenting. We worked on motivation. I wanted her to get her GED becauseI knew this was a decision she would never regret. She moved out two weeks after her 18th birthday. She joined the Job Corps, and we still keep in contact.I am so proud of her.
With one foster parent experience under my belt, I was ready for round two. I was given a ten-year-old girl. She was much more challenging than the first. This sweet girl came from a home of neglect and abuse. People in the foster care system would always talk about their child having meltdowns and losing control, but I always thought it would never happen to me.
We had made it through our first month together. Everyone calls this the “honeymoon stage” because nothing usually seems to go wrong. The children are on their best behavior and it all appears pleasant. Then one day,she lost her temper. It was so scary and I didn’t know what to do. I just sat there and watched as she released her emotional charge onto the floor below.Occasionally I would beg her to stop, but to no avail. She was a challenge inmost ways, but she taught me patience. Eventually her school work became consistent and she brought up all of her grades. One day they found the location of her mother and they were reunited. This meant our time together was over, but we have not lost touch with each other. She taught me so much.
Habitat for Humanity has asked me to come and speak about my experience as a foster parent at an annual breakfast. I have always loved kids.There is something so refreshing about helping a child in need. It is somethingI will never regret, and hope to continue to pursue.
Currently, I do respite care on weekends. This means that I offer up my weekends to allow foster families to take a break. I spend the weekend with the child. I also work at the Little Red Door in Muncie. Little Red Door isa social service organization that works with cancer patients to help them face their overwhelming problems. An example of our resource base is that we have a room full of wigs that women, men, and children can peruse. We offer them free because the mere purchase of a wig can throw a person back financially. These, and other small things, help people with cancer get through their difficult journey. Although not all patients are children, I am still fulfilled by the ability to help people.
Because of Habitat for Humanity, I have a home; I have a front door. That door will always be open. For as long as I can help a child in need, there will be a room in my home. Maybe one day I will adopt, but I am content with my current circumstance and look forward to what the future may hold.
— As told to Kaitlyn Meeks
Ball State University
Social Work Major | Class of 2012
Cancer Services of East Central Indiana | Employee
This story originally appeared in Facing Poverty, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by TEAMwork for Quality Living in Muncie, Indiana.