Road Trips and Connecting With Foster and Adoptive Families Along The Way!

“We first adopted Elijah, our very first placement who came to us at eight months old. His biological brother Mattais was our next child we adopted who we had brought home from the hospital as a newborn. The surprise call for baby Liam came a few years later, also a newborn from the hospital. We will tell anyone that the love we have for these boys is as if they had come from our own DNA and no less than that. We are now joyfully raising our tribe of three wild, wonderful boys who are now 6, 8 and 10…”

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How To Support Foster Youth

If every child aging out of foster care THIS year had a home, we'd have a societal saving of $6.5 billion in the United States! For every youth that ages out of foster care and enters a world of homelessness, poverty, unemployment or the criminal justice system, the community loses an engaged and contributing member to society. Instead, society gains a lonely adult often in need of continued, expensive public support. Studies show there's an estimated savings of $235,000 in total public benefits, including child welfare and human services costs, per child for every child that is adopted before aging out of foster care.

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Thrive, Not Just Survive

I’m Sarah Wilson and I’m a CASA advocate. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. I first got involved in CASA in 2014 while still an undergraduate student at the University of Iowa. I have always loved working with children, which is why I decided to study speech pathology.  While working with children with special needs, I felt like I wanted to do more and that I had more to give. However, because I was a student, I felt like my options, as well as, my time, were a bit more limited in how I could reach out to help children in crisis. I had always thought about possibly becoming a foster parent and after doing some research, I found the CASA program and I knew immediately that it was the opportunity I was searching for! 

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Self Preservation is Not a Virtue

My interest in foster care started because of my job as a NICU nurse. My patients came from all over our state, and they were the sick of the sick. We would frequently see patients go home with foster parents while, their birth parents were trying to get back on their feet and create a safe home environment for their children. I mentioned to Clay several times over the last 5 years that we could be foster parents, and he agreed, but we never felt the timing was right. After a year of infertility, I clearly heard the Lord tell me one morning that He had closed my womb so we could open up our home. Clay wasn’t as sure as I was, and was hesitant to agree.

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The Joys of Parenting Foster Youth

From the other room we heard our eldest son whisper, “I know this is scary. When I went to my first home I was scared too. But we are safe and we will feed you and we won’t hurt you at all. I’ll be your buddy.” For the next week, that little boy was never more than two feet away from our eldest son, he was his safe person through that difficult and confusing time. 

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Miracles in Foster Care

If you're feeling a call to foster, my best advice is to connect with other foster families. Knowing others are going through the same journey allows you to normalize some of the more frustrating aspects of fostering, along with giving you that extra love and support that you might need.  Surround yourself with people who love you and your quirky family, who will support you through all the struggles and celebrate in all the achievements. And believe me, the achievements will be many and the amount of joy and love will be heart stretching in the most wonderful ways. 

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Peace, a Good Night’s Sleep, and School Supplies

Foster care isn’t as scary as it sounds, in fact, we would describe it as an honor!  You meet these children and their parents on their worst day and acknowledge their tears and hurt. You sit in court hearings rooting for their parents and have the opportunity to teach these kids that they are surrounded by love. You help to fight off demons of the past and brighten their future. You experience some children’s ‘firsts’ and some children’s ‘lasts’.  You experience grief, as a child returns home, alongside joy as you watch that family become whole again.  As a foster parent, you commit to the child’s parents that you will keep their child safe and one day they will go home to them. We are honored to be in these spaces, places, and hearts. 

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A Life of Passion and Purpose in Foster Care

Years later, here I am, Alexis, a passionate foster momma. International adoption had always been plan A for me, not foster care. When my husband, Todd, and I began dating he jumped right on board with that plan. We began looking into adopting internationally when we were 21 and 22. We were accepted into a program, but when my husband decided to return to school, we decided to put a hold on adopting. 

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Giving Children Back Their Voices

“My CASA asks about ME. She wants to know how I am and what I need. She comes to see me and just lets me talk or not talk, she lets me do what I need to do and I like that.” - nine year old boy talking about his assigned CASA advocate

Lending my voice to these children has changed my life and I have watched it change the lives of volunteers and children.

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Twins Fostering Together!

“I didn’t know twin sisters could foster together!” We hear this statement often as we tell our story and, honestly, when we began to pursue foster care, we didn’t know if we would be allowed to foster together, either!

I'm Kelli Hoeckner and my sister Kimmee and I are identical twin sisters and we’ve been fostering together for almost one year! Oh, and did I mention we're 25 years old?

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Loving With Purpose

Fostering children, on my own, became a passion of mine when I was in my early 20’s. I had been in a long-term relationship that I had poured my heart into, and it all come crashing down. When I lost my relationship, I lost who I was. After my relationship ended I knew it was time to start loving the right people. I have a very strong passion to love children, to love them with all my being, to shelter and to protect them.

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Don't Let Fear Rob You

I honestly was afraid of foster care. I was afraid of the unknown. I was afraid of the complicated mess, and the endless sacrifices that have to be made. My life was comfortable and predictable and I was afraid of messing that up. I also doubted myself as a mom. I doubted that I had the ability to love a child that's not my own like he/she is my own, and to be able to continue to provide a loving home for my own children while adding the stresses of fostering.

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The Only Thing You Have Control Over...

We have learned that foster care is not about our needs as much as it is about the needs of the children. Many children who come into foster care have been subjected to neglect and abuse, however, giving a child a safe home, that is full of unconditional love – we feel, is one of the most rewarding and satisfying things in the world. There will be many things out of your control throughout the foster process, but the one thing you can control is your attitude regarding the situation and how you treat/respond to the children in your home.

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