When children are placed in foster care, there are many changes that occur with a new home, new family, new rules, and often a new school. These changes, although they may provide safety from abuse and neglect, can also be traumatic for children. Placing a child with a relative or kinship home can lessen the impact of the trauma a child experiences during a separation from their parents. This could mean placement with a grandparent, aunt or uncle, a teacher at their school, or their best friend’s parents. The families that take on this great responsibility are a dedicated group because this new role comes with its own challenges. There can be a change in roles and boundaries within the family that are required in order to follow the court orders. The child may have educational, emotional, medical, or behavioral needs that the family has not experienced. They are also required to complete the foster care licensing process in a 90 day timeframe, often while they are already caring for the child in their home.
While the requirements and responsibilities are numerous, what the child and family gain from this experience can be priceless. Ken and Teresa began their journey as relative foster parents when they received a call about their nephew, Eli. When asked how they made the decision to accept placement of the child Teresa states, “There was no thinking about it; he is family and needed to stay with family.” This was a complete lifestyle change for the family. They were a newly married couple in their 40’s with no children in their home. They also worked through challenges like putting boundaries and restrictions in place for the biological mother in order to follow the visitation plan. Ken and Teresa believe their strong family support system was critical.
Once they settled into their new roles, they were called about Eli’s newborn sister. The family was in shock and concerned that they were too old for a newborn. After some thought they agreed to bring the baby home. Teresa states, “We could not let Eli’s sister go anywhere but with family.” Ken and Teresa adopted Eli and his sister, Haylee, in October of 2017. Teresa explains their decision to adopt, “We talked with each other and family and decided it was the right decision for us and the kiddos to be a forever family. We feel it is important for the children to stay with family. They get to know their grandparents and other extended family and to know their heritage.”
Ken and Teresa enjoyed their work in foster care so much, they continued their training and are now licensed traditional foster parents. They are happy to share their knowledge and experiences with other families and to help children have a safe and loving home while they are in care.