How foster care chose me

I’ve been asked many times why I chose to foster. My answer is simple. I didn’t. It chose me.

Sitting at a meeting one hot August night, I found myself accosted by a 2-year-old boy with an angelic face who promptly jumped into my lap, buried his sweaty little head in my chest and sat there for the entire two-hour meeting. When the meeting ended, I looked at his presumed parents and playfully asked, “Can I have him?”

Unbeknownst to me, my life was about to look vastly different in the months ahead. You see, this beauty of a boy was being fostered by his aunt and uncle – “kinship care” in foster speak – and that very afternoon, they had called the social worker and given their 30-day notice. They were unable to continue providing care for this little guy and his 3-year-old sister.

After discussing this with my husband and birth children, we decided as a family to enter the world of fostering. Our lives have never been the same.

So I ask each of you the question I opened with. Why did you choose fostering? More importantly, for those of you who have yet to embark on the fostering road, why have you NOT chosen to foster?

With your involvement, I look forward to continuing to blog about all things related to fostering. My goal is to start a conversation not just for foster parents, but for all who want to make a difference in the life of a foster child. When you get involved, your life will never be the same.

I encourage you to visit cssw.org or call 414-KID-HERO (414-543-4376) for more information about foster care.

Paulette Drankiewicz~ Paulette Drankiewicz, foster parent liaison, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Paulette is a foster and adoptive parent. She works at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin as a foster parent liaison, providing support, offering encouragement and advocating for foster parents throughout all phases of fostering and adoption.

Paulette also discusses foster care and adoption on the Kid Hero blog from Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin.

Comments

How foster care chose me — 24 Comments

  1. Foster care didn’t call to me *quite* as loudly as it called to Paulette, but I’m glad I listened anyway!

    Why NOT me?

  2. We were inspired to foster by our friends who were foster parents. After attending the informational meeting, we knew this was what we were meant to do! We had plenty of love to give and realized there were hundreds of kids waiting for a home just like ours. Becoming foster parents changed our lives for the better. We couldn’t imagine life any other way!

  3. Well put, Jean. “Why NOT”…the children thank you for listening too!

    Niki, never underestimate the impact of how you live out your life in front of others. Just as you were inspired to foster by friends, you now can inspire others to do the same. Thank you for taking that leap of faith to jump in!

  4. Paulette,

    I love your story about how you entered the world of foster care.

    We tiptoed in because of others who had gone before us. They were patient as we asked our questions and gained some understanding of how the process works.

    Our lives have been changed forever because we traveled this road.

    We have had the honor of fostering three beautiful children and now to parent two of those children who are with us permanently through the blessing of adoption.

    We are so happy we chose this path to our forever family…..

    Danee (Mom to 11)

  5. Danee – Mom to 11, loved by many more – thank you for sharing!

    As you can see by Danee’s story, not everyone jumps into this world both feet first. It’s OK for people to enter cautiously. The message is simple, just start.

    We are here for you, to help you navigate this world of fostering, to support you, to answer your questions. Anything you may need, our fostering family through Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin is second to none!

  6. Eleven years ago, a 17-year old stranger “jumped” into our lives. He was a student at the school where I was teaching and needed a home. We became foster parents to get him and have been Mom and Dad ever since. I still get goosebumps when I think about how it happened!

  7. Julie, what a blessing you and your husband have been for your son. I think you would agree with us foster and adoptive parents that we are the ones who received the greatest blessings just by getting to love these children! Thank you so much for sharing your story-I hope it will inspire others to look at the child next to them and reach out when they need help.

  8. a few years ago i taught a class with a co-worker who i had not yet met. we were lucky(us, not the students) that we both like to talk. she told me that if she suddenly walked out of the class that she had to take a very important phone call, she was adopting a child. that excited me because my husband and i wanted to adopt also. we talked all day and i was amazed to hear of her family created through the foster system. our day turned in to dinner and even more conversation on foster care……long story short, i not only gained the bestest friend ever….i now have 2 beautiful children! :-)

  9. Isn’t it amazing how us reaching out to help a child in need changes not only the family within the four walls of our home, but also expands our family outside of it. Thanks for sharing this Melanie!

  10. i have never been a foster parent but i commend each of you for what you do. you are all amazing people!! you and your kids are lucky to have found each other!

  11. i am a now an adult but was a child in the system. i am so thankful for my parents! i went from foster home to foster home before i was placed at 14 with my parents. they welcomed me with open arms and open hearts! each foster parent hold a special place in my heart as without them i am not sure where i would be today. i wasn’t headed down a good road. thank you for doing what you do.

  12. i am not a foster parent but have friends who are. i commend each of you for opening your hearts to some very lucky little kids. you are all special people. i know it must be difficult at times but it sounds like you have a great support system. kudos to all!!

  13. i am the foster parent of a little boy with special needs. i am the lucky one because he found me. it was by chance out paths crossed. i was not looking to be a foster parent, my children are grown and out of the house. i did not know what would happen to my son if i didn’t take him in. 1 year later i am filled with joy and happiness. my heart sings because of him. we are currently going through the adoption process. how lucky am i??!!

  14. Linda, it is the support of family and friends that help us foster parents do what we do day in and day out. Thank you for being such an important person in the lives of these kids and families. We couldn’t do it without you!

    Britini, Wow, thank you so much for sharing such an uplifting message for us. I am happy you finally found your way home. What a testimony for adopting older kids-please feel free to share more if you would like to help people who are considering fostering older kids understand what children feel as they are going through the system. Continue to use your voice to help other kids find their way home.

    Kim, you get it! I, too, have been blessed with the gift of a special needs child. I once read a quote from a dad of a special needs boy that said, “The gift of a special needs child is not one I would wish upon anyone, but having received the gift, would never exchange it”. EVERY day I am amazed at my son, every day that I am honored to peek inside his happy little world makes me a more patient, more understanding, more accepting person. Welcome to the choir of singing hearts-it’s a melody that not everyone has the privilege to hear. Congratulations on finding each other!

  15. My husband and I are currently in the process of becoming a licensed foster home. It is an idea I have wrestled with in my heart and mind for quite some time. Through my faith I have come to realize its a path that has been chosen for me. I thought because my husband and I both work full-time this could be a limiting factor. Recently we have found ourselves being called on to provide respite care for one of my son’s classmates on the weekends. He has no immediate family here to care for him and we are the “closest thing to home” he has. It brings us great joy and comfort to know every weekend we can provide comfort for him until we become licensed and we can become a “constant” for him. You can make a difference and they can make a difference too.

  16. My husband and I have been fostering for 10 months now! Our family talked about it for years, yes years. Now two of our own children are in college, and one in high school. And we have a beautiful foster boy who will be 1 yr soon and his sister, who came to us a few months afterwards, who is 4 yrs.
    The biggest obstacle for us was thinking we couldn’t do it, we couldn’t balance and manage. I work part time. We were almost empty nesters! We were scared.
    To be honest, the licensing process was more frightening than being a foster parent because of the unknown! It seemed like a mountain to climb! But there is help along the way, the entire way, thanks to all of the dedicated staff. And to Paulette for her amazing example and support.
    Now, for us, it is a blessing to see growth and change daily in lives of our two foster children who didn’t have a fair chance at life.
    We didn’t plan on taking in our foster baby’s sister. We resisted because we couldn’t imagine how we could manage. But you know how the light comes on when things happen that we don’t plan? You should see the love between these sweet siblings.
    We are keeping the faith and holding on to hope that there is a good plan ahead in life for our precious ones we are fostering!

  17. Tracy, we started providing respite care to our almost 8 year old son when he was 6 to help out his aunt on weekends. He is the older sibling to our 2 youngest daughters. After about 6 months, we had the opportunity to bring him home forever and never looked back. His adoption was completed just this past August-our family is now complete with him in it. What a life changing opportunity you are providing for this little boy. Reach out for help when you need it-we are all here for you every step of the way!

    Louise, beautiful Louise. Your love for these children is second only to your kind and gentle spirit. Amazing how much more these short little people can bring into your already full lives. Thank you for opening up your hearts for these beautiful children to take hostage! I am sure you will agree that none of you will ever be the same. Stay posted, we will be talking shortly about “second families”!

  18. I went into foster care after working at a daycare on the South side of Chicago and saw the need for it. For years I went along with it on my brain. Then, it seems like all of a sudden I saw billboards, signs on buses, etc. I thought, “Ok God, I get it!”.

    I got placement of my son on 5/9/2009 and he was adopted 12/22/09. I did not go into foster care thinking I would adopt. I actually said I would NOT adopt. HA! 3 days into it I knew his big beautiful eyes had worked on me!

    I could not imagine my life without him.

  19. Melissa-his eyes…..isn’t that the truth? God gives these beauties eyes that melt our soul. We didn’t expect to adopt either, but, 6 blessings later-here we are.

    “Organized chaos” is how we describe our life, and we would not change ONE thing.

    Thanks for sharing, Melissa. Maybe your son needs a brother or sister!!

  20. I have always wanted children, but I have not yet found the right man to marry and have a family with. I chose to have a child through donor insemination, and I have a wonderful 4 year old boy. Now I am ready to add to our family and spent months contemplating between donor insemination again or adoption or fostering. Then a friend told me about a child whose parents weren’t sure if they could care for their newborn. As soon as the words were out of her mouth, I said I’d take the child. It was at that moment, I knew. I am just starting on this journey and am anxious and excited.

  21. Paulette, I have seen your name a couple of times in the past few months, one of them being here and the other when you adopted your children this past year. Your name sounded so familiar and I am nearly certain that you and your family fostered our daughter whom we adopted in 2007. If you have been fostering for that long or longer I remember coming to your home and visiting before we brought our daughter home. We also adopted her sibling at the same time but he came from a different foster home. We are so blessed to have these children in our home who joined our other adopted son who came to us through Lutheran Social Services.

    The children of Milwaukee are so fortunate to have people like yourself who have opened their homes to these children who need a safe and loving place to stay while waiting for their forever family to find them. God bless you and your family for your unselfish love and dedication to the foster care program here in Milwaukee.

  22. Rebecca-
    Thank you for sharing such a personal story of how your family has come together. Our family comes to us many ways, but the heart does not care. I wish you the best as you navigate this road. Remember, when you need help, our foster family community is always here for you.

  23. Joni-
    Thank you for your kind words. Yes, this is me! We were blessed to love up your daughter until she found her way home. We were so pleasantly surprised to find your family picture on our doorstep last year from your husbands endeavors-what a beautiful family you have. Thank YOU and your husband for giving these children their forever homes. Blessings to you and yours. Keep in touch-would love to see new pictures! Paulette

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