Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A coffee break with Alicia and Mike

I'm so excited this week to introduce you to one of our Iowa KidsNet ambassador families! This is a program Iowa KidsNet started last fall with some great foster and adoptive families across the state. They're helping us raise awareness about Iowa children in foster care and the need for more foster families by reaching out to their personal contacts of family, friends, neighbors, coworkers and their local community.

Alicia and Mike are an ambassador family in the Waterloo service area.

Hi ambassadors! So, tell us a little about your family.
We have a 20-year-old daughter, an 18-year-old son, an 11-year-old son and a 22-month-old son. We also have a 12-year-old foster daughter and an 18-year-old foster son.

Wow, you're a busy family! When did you become foster parents?
We have been foster parents for a little over two years now. We decided to become foster parents because we wanted to adopt. During our journey to become foster parents our perspective changed, and we decided to foster as well.

What is something that has surprised you about foster parenting?
First, we were surprised at just how much we love it. We were also surprised that at most times it is very easy to work together with birth families.

Name three qualities you think help make a good foster parent.

Empathy, a good sense of humor, and a true desire to make a difference in a child's life.

Any interesting or funny stories to share?
We had a 4-year-old girl in our care for about eight months. She had been with us for roughly six months at the time, and I was sitting at the computer doing some work and she was in the same room playing with her dolly. I would catch pieces of the conversation she was having with her doll, and at one point I had to stop working and smile as I heard her tell her dolly that it was time for her to get ready to go on a visit to see her "birth mommy."

We're super excited to have started our Ambassador program. What have you been up to as an ambassador family?
We participated in Charles City's Spook Walk in 2009. When the Charles City Public Library hosted the Heart Gallery, Alicia read a book about adoption to two different groups of children for story time. During the Charles Theater's showing of The Blind Side, we handed out, pens, magnets, brochures, and business cards as well as answered questions both before and after the movie.

We spoke with restaurant owners who have then put out table tents. We have talked with our local radio station who has since run public service announcements for Iowa KidsNet. We have also talked to a countless number of people, put up many posters, put out a large number of brochures, and handed out hundreds of pens.

That is awesome. Thanks for helping spread the word! Anything else you want to add?
We would just like to say that becoming foster and foster adoptive parents is one of the best things that we have ever done. It has made our marriage stronger because we have to work as a team. We are stronger as parents because of the different backgrounds we encounter. We have stronger children because they have learned patience and empathy. And we have a stronger family because we appreciate what we have even more.

Being an ambassador family has allowed us to meet some wonderful people and make new friends. We are now much more involved in our community than we were before. Most importantly we are involved in something that we are very passionate about. Children have the power to become anything they want to become if only given the chance. Maybe you or I will be the one who gives them that opportunity.

Thanks to Alicia and Mike for sharing a little glimpse into their lives as foster parents!

We hope to introduce you to more of our ambassador families across the state.

Alicia and Mike had a great point about how foster care has benefited their own family, as well as the kids they care for. If you're a foster parent, how do you think the experience has made you a stronger parent/spouse/family?


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