After 3 years of being foster parents, it’s been so interesting to compare our initial expectations to our actual experience. We thought we would take care of a child for a bit, and then they would move on. Instead, our first placement learned to walk, learned to talk, and had her first birthday with us; she became part of the family. And now, she's still in our lives 3 years later. We even attended her birthday party and were able to be among her peers and biological family who love her dearly.
Fostering was just so very different than what we thought it was. It's a real home, it's a life, and it's been an amazing experience for our entire family and friends. We highly encourage any and all who are interested to begin the licensing process and see where it takes you. You might just be surprised like we were.
Ashley, Riley & Little Riley
Ashley, Riley & Little Riley
It's harder than you think. You are bringing a living being into your home, with an individual history, personality, and collection of strengths and weaknesses. It's also more rewarding than you think, for exactly those same reasons. Every child makes themselves a different space in your home and in your heart, with their own nickname and funny catch phrase, and every child will be remembered in a different way, for different things. Some may be more difficult than others, some may refuse to sleep, some may be cuter than heck, but you'll be amazed at your own ability to make room for, and in turn, let go of every child that comes through your home. Being a foster parent isn't something I'd recommend to the faint of heart, but for those with large and durable hearts, it is an incomparable experience that has the ability to truly change children's lives, as well as your own.
We are the Knudsen family! We have been foster parents for about 3 years. We have been married for 34 years and should be empty nesters by now. Our youngest child is 23 and is finishing up at the police academy and will be moving out (that's our daughter in the picture) But... we're not! We work with teen girls and absolutely love it! We decided to do foster care because we believe in family and we believe that every child deserves one. Before we decided to become foster parents we talked with our daughter and she was completely on board and felt the same way. She wanted other kids to experience a fun, healthy and loving home life. She became the immediate big sister and they were treated like family. We both have a background in life coaching and career coaching and we wanted to pass our knowledge and love to kids who can't, for whatever reason, get that at home. Each teenager that has come through our doors has been full of potential! They have their challenges, yes, but majority of the time they are in the system due to no fault of their own. We look at them for who they can be not their current, stressful, fearful, anxious self. Foster kids aren't "bad" they are hurting, they are wounded and they want a fresh start and an opportunity. These Kids are future doctors, lawyers, school teachers, and active community members but they don't know it yet and we want to help them realize that what happened to them in the past does not define who they are or their future. They are excited to have a fresh perspective on life and to learn new things. It's so rewarding to hear how we have impacted their lives in a few short months. Things that they will take with them for the rest of their lives. We want kids to experience a place of love, hope, security and love again! We love to help them regain trust in themselves and others, not an easy task but absolutely doable. I would encourage anyone who has love to give, security, encouragement and faith, to consider being a foster parent. You don't have to be perfect, you just gotta care.
Steve and Lesia Knudsen
When I was 15 years old, my brother and I became wards of the court and were placed into a Marin County Foster home. We had to move to a new town, switch to a new high school and make all new friends. Luckily we had amazing people to support us through the transition and serve as our family while we prepared for college and adulthood. In May, I graduated from Lewis and Clark College with a degree in Psychology. I will begin working in September towards my MSW at Columbia University in New York City. I have been working towards my goal of becoming a social worker for many years. I am so grateful that I had the support of so many people in my community who knew I was just as capable as any other teenager.
Another reason I was able to achieve so much success is that I was able to stay in the same homes as my brother. This year, my brother and I are hoping to create more awareness of the need for new qualified foster parents in Marin County. Marin needs foster parents who are willing to have long term relationships with kids even after they move or go to college. Resource families that are capable of loving a foster child as if they are their own, believe in their abilities to succeed academically and are willing to support them in maintaining relationships with siblings and other family members.
Isaiah 54-A Calling
I am a pastor, and for several years have been hearing a nudge from God that I should look into fostering. I recently moved into a house that meets the requirements, and this nudging became even stronger, but as a single adult with a more than full time job I was asking, "Really God??? Really!" As part of my prayer I asked God to respond to this question, and kept hearing a whisper back to me, "Look at Isaiah 54." I said, "No God... I want a sign." And the response came again, "Look at Isaiah 54." I took out my Bible and saw the following words:
"Sing, O barren one who did not bear;
burst into song and shout,
you who have not been in labor!
For the children of the desolate woman will be more
than the children of her that is married, says God
Enlarge the site of your tent,
and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out." (NRSV)
And so my training began! Any time I began to feel anxious I returned to this passage and felt a sense of peace wash over me. A month ago I received my first placement: a 13 year old boy. This month has been a great transition for us both as we get to know each other, and I have felt supported from every angle. He is beginning to look at this as long term and feels comfortable with me, and it feels like he has been around forever. Some days, of course, I am the worst ever parent for sending him to bed, but he is adjusting well, and I know that God has placed him in my life for us both to grow and learn and heal. We are both hoping this will be a long-term placement, and he often asks questions like, "So when I'm 18 will you let me ride a motorcycle?"
When I tell people that my family is a foster family, they always say “What a great service to the county that is”. I never saw it that way though. To me this little person was my new sibling for 6 months. Caring for this child wasn´t a service, it was family. I am the youngest in my family and i always wanted a little brother. Well in 1st grade i got my wish and my family received a 5-day old named Devon. Devon was my little brother that I could play with, feed, hold and altogether love. Now I´m a 15 year old who was had many younger foster brothers and sisters and can take care of children from 3 months old to 10 years old. Foster care doesn’t just change the future of these children, it changes the families that take care of them.
Two of these boys once called my house home. They were with us for a year before they moved to their new forever home. Their new family adopted them and their other siblings to keep them together, and went from a family of three, to a family of eight more or less overnight. There are kids like these who need our help in OUR country. It's more than just giving a blanket to a collection drive, it's not for everyone but you'd be surprised what you’re capable of doing when you open your doors to a foster child. As my mom once said to someone who said our foster kids were lucky to be with us, "No, we are lucky the ones." Oh and by the way, Go Lions, great win today boys.