“There are 10,068 children in foster care in Washington; 2,167 of these children are waiting for adoptive families. Most of the children awaiting adoption reside in foster care. Some are in group homes.”
During the 1970s my wife Peggy and I became foster care providers. Our youngest child was over the age of three. We didn’t want children that would compete with our own age wise. My wife loves babies, and as a family we were happily content with our three children.
“The Office of Community Services does its best to match a foster child with a foster family who can best meet the child’s needs. Some foster parents prefer to work with teenage children, while others do better with young children. You, however, will be able to specify the age and gender of the child you prefer.”
Over several years, we provided care for three foster children. Larry was our first. His mother needed to finish high school. Her mother and her uncle were there for support, but not on a daily basis. Larry was six months old. He fit right in with our children. He had allergies, a touch of asthma, brown hair, and brown eyes. He did stand out in our little family grouping, however. He was African American.
Peg’s parents and my parents accepted Larry as our new “son.” We drew many stares when we would go out for pizza or dinner. He dressed like our children, even down to his blue salt water sandals. When it was time for his first haircut we took him to an age-old barber shop on 19th and “K” Street (now Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard). The barber and customers waiting for their turn just beamed and smiled at him. Larry frequently went back to his mom. After she graduated, he went back permanently.
“Children range in age from birth to age 21 years. Many have brothers or sisters in foster care with them. Most have experienced abuse or neglect.”
Our second foster care son was “Sam.” He had cigarette burn scars on his chest. When he returned from visits with his family he was too much to handle for us. He came back hyper with loads of candy and soda pop. We gave him up. We had to.
The third foster care son was “Tommy.” Like Larry, he was a great fit as a member of our family. Eventually, he was put up for adoption. We considered, but knew that he would have no problem being adopted. His new parents lived in Eastern Washington and had a family of girls. We wished him well, but it bothered us that the new family changed his name from Tommy to Michael.
Years later we received a phone call from Tommy. As an adult, he tracked us down. He asked if he could visit us to talk about his early life. We agreed. He came with support, his girl friend. He had been a troubled youth. We had seen no problems when he stayed with us. We showed him photos of his time with us and our children and assured him that he was well loved when he was with us. He was adopted and left our care a month or two before Mother’s Day.
Even with our busy life, I could tell that Peg missed him. On a visit to the Tacoma Mall, Peg saw a figurine. It reminded her of Tommy. I presented it to her on Mother’s Day and we always called it, Tommy. While the real Tommy and his girl friend visited us we showed him “our” Tommy. We all hugged. I think Tommy made peace with himself that day. We never heard from him, again.
Children like Larry, Sam, and Tommy need your help.
“Successful foster parents have two things in common: they have a desire to help children, and they are flexible – they know how to roll with the punches. Most importantly, foster families need to provide safe, stable and caring homes for children.”
If you would like to make a difference in a child’s life, please, consider foster care. For more information: dcyf.wa.gov/services/foster-parenting/become-a-foster-parent
Thank you for sharing your very personal experiences. I recall when my husband and I adopted an infant, my mother-in-law disapprovingly commented, “You never know what you’re going to get!”.
My prompt response was, “Nor do the children”!
Foster children didn’t ‘luck out’ in the parenting lottery. Thank you and Peg for stepping up!
Don Doman says
Thank you for your comments on Foster care. I’ve never asked out children on their thoughts about growing up with Foster children. I have no idea what their reactions and memories would be. However, our son Del and his wife have helped their own friends and the friends of the children, so I’m guessing they know about love and caring. The other two probably know also, although Patrick would have been a bit young, but I don’t recall any issues at the time.
Thanks, again for reading and sharing.