Friday, May 3, 2013

Veronica and Daniel's Story

May is National Foster Care Month, a time to recognize those who make a difference for children in foster care and to raise awareness for the ongoing needs of youth in care. Thank you to all of our Iowa foster families for all you do!

Remember our National Adoption Month story campaign from last fall? To celebrate National Foster Care Month, we are excited to once again share stories from Iowa families.

We asked families to share their own words on one of two topics—why they chose to become foster parents (to honor the diverse reasons people get involved) or why people should foster teens (to draw awareness toward this critical and ongoing need).

Here's our first in this series. Sometimes when there are not enough foster homes for teens, a teen may be waiting in shelter care until the right home becomes available. Veronica and Daniel shared their thoughts on this issue and on how their view of teens has evolved during their journey as foster parents.

Veronica and Daniel's Story

Your days are set out in front of you without surprise. You’re to get up at a set time, you eat at a set time, you have “free time” at a set time, one phone call at a set time, bedtime at a set time. You may be thinking I’m talking about jail, but I’m not.

I’m going to tell you how kids sit, wait, and pray someone will take them home. Save them from shelter and let them into your home. Not many people listen to this. Not many people care. There is a stereotype against these kids. They are not “cute babies.” They are teenagers in shelter. We didn’t know what we were getting into. We walked into foster care thinking the same stereotype: Teenagers are bad kids. They are in shelter because they are troublemakers. We thought younger would be better for our family. We have kids of our own, 15 and 11, and teens wouldn’t fit. How wrong we were.

During our foster care training, they had teenagers come to a meeting and talk. One girl stood out from the rest. She had been sitting in shelter for months. Yes, months! No one wanted her. She wasn’t a bad kid.

Sure, she admitted to not getting along with her foster mom, but did she need to be in shelter for months? After hearing her story, we didn’t think so. We told the people running the class how sad her story was and that we would take her if we were licensed. They listened, we finished classes, they emailed DHS, DHS called, and we met our new foster daughter. She was 16.

The stereotype people have of teenagers in foster care needs to be erased in all of our minds. Teenagers are great to foster. They know what’s going on. They need love and affection, even more so, in my opinion, then younger ones. These kids need and want the same as younger kids. They want a home. They want a family. They are alone and soon they will be 18 and not even shelter will want them. Fostering teens has so many rewarding things to offer. As my teenager foster child would point out, if I would ask her why should families should foster teens, she would say, “I don’t need a car seat and I can ride the ‘big kid’ rides at Adventureland.” Teenagers know what you do for them, and it helps all the more. Take it from us. A normal, new, inexperienced foster family whose first placement was a 16-year-old. We were scared, due to our preconceptions, but we followed our hearts, and how joyously our hearts were rewarded.”

- Veronica and Daniel


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