Hidden Heroes: Foster Parents
My aunt Sharon does foster care. New children are placed in her care every so often. Most are what professionals call “Medically Fragile” which means that these children have a lot of health problems and can’t necessarily take care of themselves. She is definitely what I would call a hidden hero. I have seen children come into her care who are diagnosed by doctors with a “failure to thrive” and just a few months with my aunt, they are at healthy weights, they smile more, and they are safe.
I decided to ask Sharon a few questions about what she does. When I asked why she fosters, she said, “kids need to be loved and with 14,000 kids needing a home…” It seemed so clear to her that this is something she wanted to do. She doesn’t focus a lot on the things she has had to give up, but from observing I noticed that she gives up a lot of freetime. The children she fosters need a lot of medical attention. She is constantly taking them to doctor’s appointments, giving the correct medications, meeting the individual needs of each kid, and so on. It’s hard for her to leave the house sometimes and even harder to plan vacations.
To my aunt, the sacrifices are worth it for the kids. I asked her what the most rewarding part of all this was and she said just the opportunity to see the children grow and learn. Some of these kids have been through tough things that we may never have to experience. They come to my aunt with unbelievable trauma and she helps them to rise above that. It is amazing even for me personally to see my aunt taking care of a new child and even just months in her care, seeing them progress so much. Sharon said that one of the most rewarding experiences was when she was able to teach the dad of one of the children she was fostering and they were able to be reunited.
I asked my aunt if she ever got discouraged. She explained to me that it was exciting to get a new kid but it would always be tough to figure out what the child’s needs were and get the necessary information to help them. She said that when she gets discouraged she prays for patience and guidance, she reaches out to other people, and she tries to learn more to help the kids.
If she could give advice she would say to not give up, be sure to reach out to others and pray a lot. She said to be sure to network. There is definitely strength in numbers. As a mom it is hard to not have that adult interaction and the same goes for foster mom’s, especially with medically fragile children. It is important to reach out and if you need help just ask.
It has been really amazing to see my aunt go through this adventure. I have seen the great impact she has made on the lives of many children. I remember one time she had two little boys who were abused by their parents before they were taken away and placed in my aunt’s care and they would hit and scream but she still took care of them. Fostering is not easy at all but nothing worthwhile ever is. So here’s a shout out to all the foster parents out there, you are making a HUGE difference and what you do does not go unnoticed. Stay strong foster parents!