Any family’s home can be welcoming to foster kids
I really don’t have time to be writing this article. I should be cleaning my house, on my computer for work, or looking up a new slow-cooker meal so my family can have a dinner that doesn’t need to be microwaved. With two part-time jobs and five kids, ages 1 through 17, like most families in Centre County, I am busy.
But because May is National Foster Care Month and there are children here in Centre County who need safe, loving homes, I feel compelled to share my family’s experience as a foster family.
Years ago, someone from our church gave a talk on international adoption and the dreadful statistics for those children who aren’t adopted. Years later, we made the call to Centre County Children and Youth Services to sign up. We are so glad we did.
We have had the opportunity to teach a little boy to tie his shoes, ride a bike, and show him the ocean for the first time. I got to do a little girl’s hair in four pigtails for an entire month, because after doing it for “crazy hair day” at school, she liked it. We have made chocolate cookies from scratch with girls who have never baked before and danced for hours to the Alvin and the Chipmunks’ version of “Single Ladies.” We have even introduced a teenager to the phenomenon of Black Friday shopping.
Through our experience, our biological kids have learned some life lessons. They have learned that their life is pretty cushy compared to that of others. They have learned that sometimes bad things happen to kids through no fault of their own, and it is our responsibility to do what we can to help. They have learned to share and that helping others usually involves some level of sacrifice.
Some people have told us, “You are a special family for taking care of foster kids.” My thoughts are, “No, not really.” I believe there are lots of ways to help kids in the community. For my family, this is just what we feel God calling us to do to act out our Christian faith. Other foster families help for different reasons.
If you have ever thought about being a home where hurting children of our community can have a safe place to land while they heal, contact Children and Youth Services. The caseworkers have some of the toughest jobs in the county, but they love these kids, and they want to help you succeed. If you even have the slightest inclination to foster, take the plunge. You might just find yourself dancing to the Chipmunks with a kindergartener who is wearing four pigtails while eating a chocolate chip cookie with way too many chocolate chips.
Hillary Haris is a foster parent for Centre County
Children and Youth Services
9 May 2012