Moments That Make It Worthwhile…

Please note that some names and other identifying information in these stories have been altered to protect the confidentiality of those involved.

Written by Emma B.

For Tanya, fostering was initially a way to still have children when she and her husband Frank believed they would be unable to have kids of their own. However, when she got pregnant with her oldest son, their situation changed. Their family grew and flourished and by the time their youngest was born, they had become a household of six. It was then that Tanya recalled her initial dream of fostering.

Tanya and Frank started small by simply signing up for the required 10 weeks of introductory classes. When the classes ended, they knew it was something they were ready to do. Since they already had a relatively large family, their interest was not in growing their family but rather reflected a deep commitment to providing children in need with a safe place in which to grow up.

“Rylie” came to stay with Tanya and Frank three months later. Rylie was in her teens and had been in the foster system before. She was quiet and shy and did her best to blend into the background. Tanya will never forget the day she watched “Rylie” finally begin to relax. “We were getting a new mattress…. so we had an extra mattress. My oldest son at the time was 11 years old and of course, was like ‘well I want a king-sized mattress.’ And our foster kid, who had never made a claim to anything, said ‘I want it in my room.’ That was the first time we had seen Rylie feel at home enough to express any opinion really.” The home Tanya and Frank provided to “Rylie” gave her a space to feel safe and grow, and it is the little breakthroughs that make fostering so special.

Most recently, Tanya and Frank fostered two babies whose home had been deeply affected by domestic violence. As a result of their particular case, the babies were terrified of men. At first, Frank could not walk into a room without one of the babies – the 11-month-old – screaming and wailing.  That was really hard on him.

“If I had to put her down to do anything, cook dinner, go to the restroom, anything, and give her to Frank, it was immediately like she’s reliving the terrible trauma she had,” Tanya recalled. “So, I’ll never forget the first time she voluntarily went to Frank… Frank held out his hand and said ‘Let’s go change your diaper’ and she grabbed his finger and marched off. Those are the moments that make it worthwhile.”

Watching kids flourish is why Tanya and Frank are now in their 5th year of fostering, and to them, the reason their in it “for the long haul” goes far beyond that.

“I think when I hit those times when I’m like, ‘oh man this is hard’, I take a step back and think of the kids in this situation who have to be in someone’s home,” reflects Tanya. “These kids don’t have the option of saying ‘No we are all set.’ That’s what does it for me, they don’t have the choice.”

The children’s biological parents are another reason why Tanya and Frank continue to foster. “Getting to meet the families of the kids always sticks with me. They all love their babies so much and it’s awesome that we can be part of getting their babies back home to them and giving them a safe place to be until they can do that… sometimes you just need a few things out of the equation for a little bit to fix what needs to be fixed. So, I think it’s really important that we can step in and fill that role.”

Tanya credits FSRI for providing the resources that have allowed them to want to continue to foster.  “With our first placement, we were very new to the system and FSRI was able to guide us through it. They sent people to help with the youth who were having a hard time and when DCYF couldn’t give us more information at the time it was helpful to have FSRI.” She also often joins fostering support groups through FSRI.

Through FSRI, Tanya and Frank have now fostered 24 kids, some for a few days and some for months at a time. They feel strongly that every placement is meaningful. “No matter how hard it is to say goodbye in the end… fostering has made us realize you can help someone for a minute, you can help someone for a day, for a month or however long you can help them. And that amount of time matters. It may not change the world. But it helps.”

That is why FSRI is committed to helping you find a way to help. Reach out to an FSRI representative today and find out what your next step can be. Begin with a class and see where it leads, because every kid has a right to have a safe place to come home to. To learn more about what is means to foster, please give us a ring at 401-900-8499.

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