Foster Parent Experiences
The stories below are from real foster parents with real experiences. Read on for an inside look at what it’s really like to be a foster parent.
Chad and Heather Shade
Chad and Heather Shade grasped the concept of shared parenting right away and have modeled that practice excellently. With no prompting from anyone but themselves, they quickly formed a relationship with their foster children’s mom and encourage her to remain involved by inviting her to her children’s activities including birthday parties, swim lessons and soccer games.
They help the children’s mom with her budget, model good parenting and provide her with parenting advice and tips, pointing her toward other resources when needed. The couple engages in conversations about parenting choices and other aspects of good living. Without judgment, they try their best to make the situation beneficial for both the foster children and the mom.
The Shades truly support reintegration and want mom to get the help and tools she needs to get her children back. Until that time comes, they make their foster children feel like a part of their own family, incorporating them into their daily lives and loving them until they can successfully transition home.
Leo and Anna Mendoza
Leo and Anna Mendoza model wonderful shared parenting. They have had several successful sibling sets reintegrate with birth parents and have fostered supportive relationships with the birth parents. One way they do this is by communicating with parents at visits and during case plans; they ask for and share information about the kids’ likes and dislikes, allergies and night time routines, among other things. The couple communicates with parents via text, when appropriate, to keep them up-to-date on their kids’ activities and illnesses. Leo and Anna take a lot of pictures and always give copies to parents. They even put together a photo album of the child’s time in the foster home and give it to parents upon reintegration.
The Mendozas understand the importance of bonding with birth parents. This helps the children feel better about the transition and the parents feel better about where their kids are living, allowing the reintegration process to go smoother.
Learn more about one of their fostering experiences in this poem written by Anna titled The long goodbye.
The path to becoming a foster mom was set up for Erma Combs-Lovelace. Her son volunteered her to become a foster parent through Youthville. Despite working full-time and being a single mom, Erma was up for the challenge.
Five and a half years later, Erma has gone above and beyond. She makes sure the children she takes in her home get the secure and loving environment they need.
“Children are products of their environment,” Erma says. “It gives me an opportunity to assist them in recognizing their potential and all the possibilities life holds for them.”
The relationship between foster child and foster parent can be beneficial both ways.
Erma reflects on her experiences and shares, “I benefit by helping them restructure their thoughts and patterns in life, while sharing my life and the things that I’ve learned during my journey.”
Currently providing a loving home for one foster child, Erma has had five long-term placements. She engages with her current foster son by participating in activities he’s interested in like archery, chess and JROTC Air Force.
“These kids become part of my family,” she says. “I make sure they never lose that.”
Daryl and Ronda Posch
Daryl and Ronda Posch have been foster parents for nine years. They became foster parents to give back to the community. However, as they got to know the kids they fostered, the couple saw how much the children truly needed them.
“In the beginning, we thought there were certain behaviors that we wouldn’t be able to handle,” Ronda says, “but we’ve learned that we can handle almost anything … Once you get to know the child, you just want to help them succeed.”
As foster parents, Daryl and Ronda get to see these children grow, change and overcome difficulties one day at a time.
“It is a huge commitment that affects every part of your life, but the rewards are incredible,” Ronda explains. “I am continually amazed at how spending only a few months with a child can have such a huge impact on them.”
Even though fostering can be challenging, Ronda says, “It is rewarding. We have become better as individuals and have learned so much from all the kids that we have had.”
Currently, Darryl and Ronda have four foster children, a group of siblings. They keep active with their foster children by going on four mile outings with bikes and skateboards, as well as going boating and fishing.
John and Stacy Burleigh
John and Stacy Burleigh have been foster parents for 11 years. They currently reside in Haysville with their three biological children and three foster children.
They understand that safe homes for foster children and support for biological parents is a big need in the community. Stacy had been a child in state custody at one time and found herself in some “not-so-safe homes.” John stood by as a childhood friend was pulled from his home and watched his friend’s parents try to maneuver through the system with no support. The couple wanted to do something to help, so they became foster parents.
“We still do this because we feel like God calls us to remain in children’s lives and to meet the needs of children while in our care,” Stacy says. “We want to continue to support the families of these foster children and continue to allow these children to live better lives.”
The Burleighs fostered in other states before moving to Kansas three years ago and were skeptical to continue because of minimal support from their sponsoring agency. They say that joining with Youthville conquered all of their fears.
“We got paired with a good worker that held our hand throughout the whole way and still does if we need it. She is always available when we need to contact her. She has great input and is very knowledgeable,” Stacy explains.
Brian and Evelyn Anderson
Brian and Evelyn Anderson have been foster parents for two years in Kansas City, Kan. where they reside with their two biological children and one foster child. They began fostering for all the right reasons.
“We wanted to help a child,” explains Evelyn. “We read a message in our church bulletin that asked if we could help a child. We never had a preference about if that child would be a boy or girl or have a disability or not. We just wanted to help a child.”
It’s been almost two years since the Andersons welcomed Adam* into their home.
“When we first met Adam we fell in love with him. Adam has taught us so much,” says Evelyn. “He is autistic and initially I didn’t know about autism, but I research it often to learn new things that will help Adam. He is a part of our family.”
The Andersons love Adam as if he was their own. They provide the structure and routine that is so important to him.
*Name has been changed for privacy.