Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care

The Joys of Being a Foster Parent

May 01, 2024 Creating a Family Season 18 Episode 35
The Joys of Being a Foster Parent
Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
More Info
Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
The Joys of Being a Foster Parent
May 01, 2024 Season 18 Episode 35
Creating a Family

Click here to send us a topic idea or question for Weekend Wisdom.

Have you ever considered being a foster parent but thought that it was just too hard? You need to listen to this podcast with a group of experienced foster parents sharing the joys of being a foster parent.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Why did you become a foster parent?
  • We talk a lot about the challenges of fostering because we want people to go into it with realistic expectations, but we also need to talk about the many joys you have experienced as a foster parent. Let’s go around round-robin style to share some of the joys.
  • Does the pain of when a child leaves outweigh the joys?
  • Does it bother you that many of the children you love and care for won’t remember you?
  • How to build a support system.

This podcast is produced by We are a national non-profit with the mission to strengthen and inspire adoptive, foster & kinship parents and the professionals who support them. Creating a Family brings you the following trauma-informed, expert-based content:

Please leave us a rating or review

Support the Show.

Please leave us a rating or review. This podcast is produced by We are a national non-profit with the mission to strengthen and inspire adoptive, foster & kinship parents and the professionals who support them.

Creating a Family brings you the following trauma-informed, expert-based content:

Show Notes Transcript

Click here to send us a topic idea or question for Weekend Wisdom.

Have you ever considered being a foster parent but thought that it was just too hard? You need to listen to this podcast with a group of experienced foster parents sharing the joys of being a foster parent.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Why did you become a foster parent?
  • We talk a lot about the challenges of fostering because we want people to go into it with realistic expectations, but we also need to talk about the many joys you have experienced as a foster parent. Let’s go around round-robin style to share some of the joys.
  • Does the pain of when a child leaves outweigh the joys?
  • Does it bother you that many of the children you love and care for won’t remember you?
  • How to build a support system.

This podcast is produced by We are a national non-profit with the mission to strengthen and inspire adoptive, foster & kinship parents and the professionals who support them. Creating a Family brings you the following trauma-informed, expert-based content:

Please leave us a rating or review

Support the Show.

Please leave us a rating or review. This podcast is produced by We are a national non-profit with the mission to strengthen and inspire adoptive, foster & kinship parents and the professionals who support them.

Creating a Family brings you the following trauma-informed, expert-based content:

Please excuse any errors, this is an automated transcript.
Dawn Davenport  0:00  
Welcome everyone to Creating a Family talk about foster adoptive and kinship care. I'm Dawn Davenport. I'm the host of this show as well as the director of a nonprofit, creating a Today we're going to be talking about the joys of being a foster parent. Our guest today are three foster parents as you would imagine, since we're talking about the joys of being a foster parent, we have with us Lissa Flatten. She is a licensed school counselor and currently a children's pastor. She has been fostering for eight and a half years with 19 kids placed in her home over that time. Her son, who was adopted through foster care was also her first foster son. We also have Katrina Cantler, she is a retired 30 year exceptional children's teacher. She started fostering in June 2021, and has provided respite care for 27 children with many of the children staying with her multiple times. And we have Christopher James, he has been fostering since 2006, and has fostered 57 kids, and has adopted two and is in the process of adopting a third. Welcome Christopher Katrina and Lissa to creating a family. Thanks.

Unknown Speaker  1:11  
It's a pleasure. Okay, so

Dawn Davenport  1:13  
I needed to tell you the impetus for this show is you know, we had been or maybe you don't know, we have been doing a podcast for many, many years. In fact, 17 years, so many years. And our current sound engineer had commented to her mother who let me know of this comment. She said, Why would anybody ever be a foster parent, because she listens, she is the sound engineer. So she listens to all of our podcasts. And her idea was, this is just a whole lot of work. Now, in fairness, she may have been meaning that in general for all parenting, but I think it's specific to foster parenting. And by the way, if anyone is looking for a terrific sound engineer, Sara McGowan. Phenomenal, I cannot recommend her enough. So Sarah, this one is for you. So why indeed? What would somebody become a foster parent? We're going to answer that question for you today. But before we do that, before we go talking with each of you about the joys, I think it would help to begin by saying, Why did you get in to being a foster parent? What was attractive to you? Or why don't you even think about it? Alyssa, we'll start with you. Yeah,

Speaker 1  2:19  
I think for me, it was just always something that was on my heart. So I had always imagined, being a foster parent kind of waited for what I thought would be the perfect time, which we know doesn't actually exist.

Dawn Davenport  2:32  
I was gonna ask, What exactly would that be? No,

Speaker 1  2:36  
it's not a real thing. So I was starting a new career in school counseling, and it just seemed like the right time. So I started when I was 30. And I immediately knew that I had capacity to being a foster parent, which I think is really important. If you don't have the capacity. It's not for everybody. So once I saw that, and I knew I was able to continue on for this duration. So

Dawn Davenport  2:59  
now, Alyssa, are you partnered? Do you have a spouse or a partner?

Unknown Speaker  3:02  
I am not. I'm

Dawn Davenport  3:03  
single. Okay. And that's important information as well. All right, Katrina. Why did you become a foster parent? Well,

Speaker 2  3:11  
like she just said, it's something I've actually thought about for a long time. And then our church had a workshop they hosted for eight months, people being trained to be foster parents. And before that start, a lot of statistics were shared. And it was just staggering. When I saw how many kiddos in our state needed foster parents. And at that time, I thought, you know, I'm not real sure, I could be a foster parent. But I can sure be a support for foster parent. And that's when I decided my husband and I decided to go through the training, and become licensed foster parents, so that we could provide risks but and I just felt like that maybe more people in our community and our surrounding community might step up to the plate, if they knew they had a support. Like, you know, they knew there was a place where their kiddos could go when they needed a break, or they had something that they had to do. So that's why we got started.

Dawn Davenport  4:12  
Okay. And, Christopher, how about you? What drew you to becoming a foster parent?

Speaker 3  4:17  
Well, we hadn't thought about it. When we got into the journey of being a foster parent. I had a cousin that come into care at the age of six. And the family had gotten in touch with us about trying to take her but we were living in Tennessee at the moment, not North Carolina, and the judge had asked us to become foster parents for an ICPC.

Dawn Davenport  4:40  
And that's by the way interstate compact for the placement of children. That means when their child is being placed across state lines. Go ahead, Christopher. So

Speaker 3  4:48  
by the time everything had gotten done, you know she reunified with their parents, because they had did their plans and got straight with it. And we were licensed and so we decided To foster parents through respire County, Tennessee, where we were at at the time, and the rest has been history. We should have known our first place. They were they weren't in a sober, good. They gave us four siblings. You know, I mean, that should have known by the way they were begging us that night, something was up. But yeah, hey, but I mean, it has been quite the journey. And there is lots of joy in it. That's why I was I kind of snickered when she said the joys of off printer, because I'm like, everybody always seems to focus on the negatives now. And it's like, if you really think about it, it's the hardest job you'll ever have. But the most rewarding, at least in my opinion. Yeah. But that's what got us into we've got a lot of respite to to help people out. Because there's not a lot of respite. And you know, those kids need somewhere to go sometimes. And we like to bring them in and give them a good weekend or whatever they're staying. You know,

Dawn Davenport  5:55  
I take seriously and I've heard this criticism before of our organization. We are the National Support and Training nonprofit for foster adoptive and kin families. And I've heard the complaint before that a lot of our resources are that this show highlights the negatives. I'm not sure I agree with it. But I do know where they're coming from. And I take it seriously. Because adoption and foster care and kinship care, have two sides, there's intense joy. But there are also we we feel such need to prepare people in advance. Because if we don't, we have that mismatched expectations, or our families go in expecting one thing, and there's nothing that sets you up for failure more than going in with how you think it's going to be and then being blindsided by the reality. So I think that's why and I'm truly not trying to be defensive because I do take seriously the criticism that we don't focus on the joys enough. So I hear what you're saying, Christopher, and I truly am aware of it and cognizant of it, even if it doesn't always feel like we respond to it that way. So today, though, let's dive in. Alyssa, I'm going to start with you. And the way that format is going to be is I'm going to ask one of you to share a joy, then the three of you can discuss it if there is something to discuss. And then we'll go to the next person who shares the joy and just kind of do a round robin that way. So Alyssa, without further ado, let's jump into some joyous stuff. Yeah.

Speaker 1  7:21  
So I guess when I was thinking through this, the first thing that came to mind are the children. Right? I always say that the kids are what makes fostering worth it. And so I thought through the different cases, I've had 19 kids in my home, some siblings that some individual kids, and watching kids come from their situations, whatever trauma that is watching, just confidence grow, watching them feel comfortable in their own skin, I've had infants who have come into my care who don't know what it's like to be held or have their needs met. And having that is a really hard situation. And then to see them look to their caregiver for their needs being met in just a few weeks or watching a child be confident in their academic abilities. When before it was a major struggle. So giving them the support and watching them thrive. For me as the biggest threat you see them smile, you look at them and know that they feel safe, that they feel, you know, what a routine can do for them. All of that, for me is the biggest joy I look at it. So I guess that's also why I continue to foster you know, I've had that question from people like why do you continue to do it? And it really is the kids and watching them go from a situation that has impacted them. But to see them thrive with stability, routine, love, in that phase that they're able to receive care.

Dawn Davenport  8:49  
Christopher, what about does that resonate with you as to the watching the kids grow in confidence and capability? Is that part of what sustains you?

Speaker 3  9:00  
Oh, yeah. I mean, you have children come in, and they have never like had anything or showing them real kind of love, or any stability. Because you see a lot of that times don't have stability. And all of a sudden they're realizing, you know, hey, I don't have to share this plate. Because I get a lot of siblings. With my sibling, I've got my own or I've got my own space, my own bed all of a sudden. And sometimes it can be overwhelming for him. But it's awesome to see them when they start smiling and start coming to you and realizing hey, I'm getting to see what it's really like to be a child. That warms your heart. It really warms your heart when you can because you see it right in front of

Dawn Davenport  9:48  
giving a child their childhood back is yes. Yeah,

Speaker 3  9:53  
definitely. And that is that is definitely a joy of the whole situation. She had a good point right there.

Dawn Davenport  9:59  
Good. Treena What about you, as it relates to seeing the kids growing confidence giving them back a childhood? Oh,

Speaker 2  10:06  
yeah, absolutely agree with that. It can be sad. But actually, my husband and I tried to look at his than happy when we do activities and things with kids. And we realize they've never done before. And like, maybe they're seven years old. And you know that that's something that you did with your child, maybe when they turned one. So yeah, I totally agree that just seeing the confidence, and the stability that you can provide for a child and seeing them grow. I mean, I can't think of anything that could give you more joy. Yeah.

Dawn Davenport  10:42  
I am loving this feel good conversation about all the joys associated with being a foster parent. But I still want to tell you about something that we're doing here at creating a family. I hope you've heard about it. But if not, we have a new podcast. It's called weekend wisdom. And it's where we answer your questions, and about five to 10 minutes. Sometimes it's just me who is answering the question, and sometimes we get an expert to specifically address your question. So send us your questions at info at creating a and start listening to the weekend wisdom drops on Sunday and telephone. And now back to the show. All right, Katrina, Europe to share a next joy that you find in being a foster parent. Well,

Speaker 2  11:30  
I've also had people ask me, what they'll say is, Oh, so you're still doing that. And I always think, and sometimes I actually say, Oh, my goodness, yes. Because my husband and you know, we've done more picnics, and more bike rides, and found more creeks to get in around the area where we live. And we have fun in our efforts to find fun things for the kiddos to do. We end up having so much fun. So many times, I just look at people and I say, Are you kid? Do you like to do picnics? We like to go float on a float in the pool. Because that's the council things that you're doing. So, you know, in turn, you might think that you're doing something just to have a healthy fun activity for the kid. But really, my husband and I have a lot of fun doing those things. And I don't know if we'd be doing it as often if we weren't doing respite care for kiddos. So to me, that's it used to wait,

Dawn Davenport  12:33  
what you know, it's funny, I'm gonna interject here. As our kids age, there are certain things you can't do as an adult unless you'd have a kid along. Okay. You just like weird, okay. But they're fun to do. So I get totally what you're saying. Yeah, completely. Christopher, do you identify with Katrina as far as getting to do fun things that you wouldn't ordinarily do? Well, yeah.

Speaker 3  12:59  
I love to take the kids just to the mall to walk around and I look at him, I go, see that store is made it from when I was your age, and stuff, you know, we gotta go in here, whatever. But I take the kids to like the amusement park, the carnivals and things like that. And, you know, it gets me active with them. Like I took the kids to the state fair a couple of years ago, and they actually got me back on rides. My background, when I got out of the military, I went in the carnival business for nine years for my wife. So I'd go out just to see the people I know. But the kids, you know, I take them out there. And next thing, you know, I'm everywhere. You know, taking the kids to the pool things. There's stuff that I normally probably wouldn't do, I would probably be trying to get something else done or whatever. But having the kids actually makes it work. I'm going out still doing stuff the son, me and my wife. And we would probably just be like, Oh, we're getting over. You know. He's ready to stay home. Yeah, here when people start getting their 50s You know, like myself? Yeah, we're like, oh, well, we just have to sit at home. But with these kids that keep us on our toes. Yeah. You know, I got 17 months on there. And she keeps me on my toes.

Dawn Davenport  14:11  
And up at night.

Unknown Speaker  14:12  
Yeah, I'll get that too.

Dawn Davenport  14:13  
Yeah. We're talking about joy. So when we're talking about that, all right, Alyssa, what about you? Do you identify with keeping young or doing things you wouldn't do? Yeah, no,

Speaker 1  14:25  
I love I mean, it comes back to kind of what I talked about again, but you wouldn't get to see the experience through kids eyes. Right and going to the pool or going to the park is a different experience as an adult, but when you can see it to a kid. I remember my toddler I had last year I took her to the zoo. It was her first time ever, right? You get to see it through her eyes. It's a totally different experience. Then I go to the zoo multiple times a year it just kind of seems like something you do. But when you see it through their eyes, it's an amazing experience. So absolutely. All

Dawn Davenport  14:51  
right. Those are two great ones then All right, Christopher. Top that. What's another joy?

Speaker 3  14:57  
Well, one of my joys is being able to look at people when they say, Well, I couldn't give kids back. And you get the joy of looking at them and say, we made a difference in this child's life, this child is now ready to go out back to home were unified and going out better than they came in. And being that I'm able to parent these children as if they're my own. And know that they're learning from that process, I'm going to take that knowledge with them, and be able to take on challenges head on. That, to me is a joy. When I was introduced in earlier I said, the hardest job but the most rewarding. That is one of the joys of being a foster parent is knowing that you've made a difference with these children that come in, and a lot of them come in with nothing. And then when they leave, they're leaving with their dignity, leaving with more knowledge and leaving knowing that somebody loved and somebody wanted to care for them. And you're helping them as they make their transition back home, or to their family members like that. And to me, that's a joy, because I always hear people say, Oh, can you give them back? Well, no, no, no, you should give them back. You know, when they're ready to go. You did a difference there. You know, it's hard, but you did a difference for the children.

Dawn Davenport  16:27  
We call it being a soft landing place for a child who really needs it. And you are the soft landing. Lissa thoughts on that? Yeah,

Speaker 1  16:36  
I think that is a huge joy that I think a lot of us don't acknowledge all of the time. And I think even I have been blessed. I have a very supportive network. But even my mom, like when I have had a newborn, who has been with me for a few months when they transition to a relative or back home, you know, knowing that in those imperative times, you know that that time where they need to know that they can have trust and love and build never remember me necessarily in that time. But what you're doing and impacting those kids to allow them to thrive in their future, I think is a huge joy. Katrina.

Speaker 2  17:13  
Oh, yeah, I agree with all y'all. I'm a little bit different since I do respite care, but kind of in conjunction with what you're saying, right now, we can be a stable part of a kiddos life, even within the foster system. Because right now we actually, as an emergency placement, got two little girls on Friday, who, for different set of reasons, had to leave their foster family. And so you were talking about a soft landing. I was glad that they were able to land somewhere where they had been going to receive respite care for the past two years. So they didn't have to go to you know, a stranger's house and they didn't have to change schools, because the kiddos are in my community. So they wouldn't have to change schools, which had they had to change schools, that would have been the fourth time in three years. Yeah. Those are great ones.

Dawn Davenport  18:12  
Let me pause here to ask, did you know about our free courses that we have on the creating a website. Thanks to our partners, the chalky being Family Foundation, you can go to Bitly slash JBf support and choose from a library of courses that will dovetail nicely with today's content. Again, that's Bitly slash JBf support that's bi T dot L y slash JB F support if you need continuing ed as a foster parent, or as a foster kinship, parent, these count for your SSI. So check it out. All right up for round two. Alyssa take us away. For

Speaker 1  18:54  
me, another joy is building my connections. So I have a lot of relationships that I have built through foster parenting, I've been a part of a number of support groups with other foster parents. So we know that this is a role that if we do an isolation is really unsustainable. So by having these different fellow foster parents that I can process with, pray together, you know, walk through the ugly and the joys that is a huge thing. A conversation just came up last week about medical assistants and how do you process this and having a sounding board is a huge joy for me and some of my greatest friends I have found just through these organizations. And now I'm at this point where eight and a half years, I'm able to even speak into other people and mentor them as they're starting because we need foster parents. We need people to see the toys. We need this to be a sustainable thing. And when you're able to speak into their lives when they get that first placement and it's hard or it didn't work out that they just don't think I can't do this well, no, let me speak into you, and help you work through this and see what areas you can grow in. So for me, that has been a huge joy and a huge aspect for my life. Christopher

Dawn Davenport  20:12  
Have you also made friends through fostering people that you would obviously probably not have run into or connected with, because you wouldn't have anything in common? Most definitely.

Speaker 3  20:21  
Couple of my foster parents friends, I was connected with one this morning, while I was waiting on the child's visit, DSS, me and him are probably polar opposites on everything, but we have gelled and become good friends. You know, like she was talking about her connections. I'm the current foster family Alliance region for leader, and facilitator because I teach some classes through your curriculum to my foster parents. So I'm kind of a liaison, you know, with them. And so I've got the pleasure of meeting people from all over a 10 county region. And we've all become a close knit. And that's one of the joys there is, we're all able to come together if somebody calls or gets up and tells me, Hey, I've got a placement coming. But I'm not prepared for this, this this, you know, if I can't get it, I've got some other parents that are like, hey, all right, I'm close by, you know, we'll take care of each other. I mean, you wouldn't believe how great those types of connections are out there. And I try to explain that to people. When I'm out trying to recruit foster parents, you know, that we're all one big family. And that is a very great thing and a joy, a foster parent and knowing that we're all a tight knit as we are and jumping in with each other, when there's a need there that we all can help one another out. And when we're all able to be one like that as one big unit, it makes it easier with the children that are in our care, because we're all able to be prepared to give them what they need right away. And so I add to that, with the connections that you make along the way are very, very valuable.

Dawn Davenport  22:03  
Katrina as a respite care provider, have you found connection and community? Are you more isolated because you're not a traditional foster parent? Well,

Speaker 2  22:13  
now I actually have to and when I jotted down some of my faults before we signed on today, output that what a module is, is being a part of a team now. Because now, I just I have such great support from the profit organization that we were licensed through support with DSS support with school counselors. And I've found it a real joy just to have such a great team because you really are working as a team. Because it's not just a foster parents, you've also got other people that are out there helping the kiddos usually, though, as the foster parent, you're the one help coordinate it. But I would say a part of having a great team has been one of my joys of being a respite parent. Yeah,

Dawn Davenport  23:01  
that makes good sense. And yes, I

Speaker 2  23:03  
have become friends with quite a few of the kiddos that we do respite with their their foster parents, and outside of just fostering, we've just gotten to be friends. So yes, that has been a joy.

Dawn Davenport  23:15  
All right. Well, Katrina, don't think just because you were able to tag one of yours on that doesn't mean you're not for I knew I just want you to know that was that was sly and subtle, but didn't work. Can you share a different joy? Yes,

Speaker 2  23:29  
I sure can, I would say in this basically piggybacks off of one of the other guests today, just the joy of being able to bring stability to a kid. And you know, another reason why being a foster parent or helping in the system has always been in the back of my head is those 30 years that I was teaching. There were so many times when a kid I had negative behaviors are learning difficulties. And lots of times, I would just go home. And I'd think to myself, you know, if there was some stability in that kid's life, I really think we could get over this hump. And that was another reason when the opportunity came up. I thought, you know, all those years, I thought about kids needing stability. Well, there's no time like the present. Yeah, I might as well just jump right in. Yeah, but I would just say that sense of being able to give a kid stability, because honestly, that's the first thing that I noticed when a new kids coming into the system, is they have not had any stability. And I mean, it's hard to function without stability. Yeah, and they're showing the ramifications of not have had a stability in their life. So anyway, that's the joy to me.

Dawn Davenport  24:52  
Listen to providing stability resonate.

Speaker 1  24:55  
Absolutely. Yeah. And I think of a few situations that came to mind but I remember A little guy that I had when he first was talking to his birth mom about living with me, he was like, I get to do chores, and I get to help with the house. He's like, Well, you can do that when you come home. It was just neat, because, you know, I was able to partner with mom and like the strategies that I was using, but truly, it was empowering him to have some ownership. And I am not a hard push on things, but I think slave drivers. But I am able to like provide because I think routine and structure is a huge part of stability. But it was neat when I'll never forget that phone call when he was just almost bragging about the fact that he got to do chores. And I seen that throughout numerous kids, when they're able to just know what is expected of them, they're able to thrive.

Dawn Davenport  25:51  
Christopher, thoughts on that?

Speaker 3  25:53  
I can definitely say that the stability part is one of the joys because you'll see kids come in, like I said, a few sessions ago, they're, they've never had anything. I've had children that come in, and are just looking at me like, Okay, what do I do next. And you start showing them that they're getting that competence where they can speak for, they're not walking on pins and needles and they realize, you know, hey, wait a minute, and then you get them into a routine. And right within no time, they're like members of a family, which they're supposed to be anyways while they're here. But they're all of a sudden into the routine, the stability comes in. And when you see them light up, because they're excited that they did something and they're getting praise that makes you light up. Also, because you know, the most simple things, some of these children that are in care for, excites them so much once they start getting stable, and comfortable in the house. You know, in the foster home they're in I don't know, you might say a philosopher really to be honest with you. Because I used to refer to people in in our home, when people asked me about it. And it's I'm I'm embarrassed to be a foster but the kids, everybody needs to know, you know, it's not about people ask me all the time. I'm like, no, they're my kids. Yeah. I don't put that out there. But that is a joy, see a stability because it will really bring a child's self confidence up because think chicken a beaten with their self competence, when they get taken out of the only thing they know, even if it's a negative situation, it's still hard on them, because they're losing what they know, their comfort zones gone. Yeah, I can definitely piggyback on what both the young lady's on that wouldn't be very much of a joy. Let's

Dawn Davenport  27:46  
I wanted to follow back up with you something that Christopher had said, and we hear it, it's less relevant to Katrina as a respite parent, we hear this frequently. And that is I couldn't be a foster parent, because any joy associated with be totally wiped out when they leave, and especially if they leave, and I'm not sure that the birth family is stable enough to handle them or whatever. In other words, I'm not sure I agree with the decision. And they leave. And that would wipe away any of the associated joy with being a foster parent, what are your thoughts on when the child leaves,

Speaker 1  28:20  
I want to know if you're spying on my life right now a little bit. I'm currently walking through a very similar situation to what you just described with a child who would hope and being at peace with that, and how to continue to build connection. So the way I continue to find joy is knowing in that child's life, like, again, how they thrive in the time, they were with me how I've built up a connection with that birth parent that they have reunified with, so that I can continue to be a support in that small capacity, I'm still able to at their discretion. I'm a very relational person. So by building that relationship with that birth parent, it might not be the situation that I desire for that child right now. But I know I made an impact. And my hope is that I can continue to support that child in the way that I can. It's not easy. I mean, I've walked through it where reunification is wonderful. And I'm so excited. I had two children, different cases in my home last year, and one was beautiful, and the other was harder. And I think it's for me just being able again to process that. So it's kind of all of what we talked about, right? I have the right support. So I can process through that. I'm not in it alone, but you're still able to find the joy for sure.

Dawn Davenport  29:39  
Katrina does it bother you that the kids may not remember you? I mean, your short time, not only because your respite, but also just because in an ideal world Foster Care is a short time. Does that bother

Speaker 2  29:51  
me? No, no, it doesn't bother me. Like you guys have said just knowing in my heart that I I tried to make a difference. And I think my husband and I did, that kind of wipes out any sadness that might have. And I will say, we've been pretty lucky, like one of the young men that we had for the longest, he was in a group home situation. So he didn't have family. So like he spent his holidays here, like Thanksgiving and Christmas. And since he was older, I have been able to keep in touch with him just through like, you know, an email every now and again. So, you know, there are ways at least just to know how they're doing. But I'll say that just the joy of knowing I made a difference, or hopefully made a difference, that kind of wipes out any kind of negative or any kind of sadness, I would have. Okay,

Dawn Davenport  30:48  
let me break in right here. I know, it's a little late to be doing this in this interview. But I do want to send a warm thank you to our current listeners, as well as returning listeners, as well as new listeners, thank you so much, we really appreciate it. And when you subscribe to our creating a podcast, it gives you access to our extensive archives of shows on everything you can imagine about foster adoptive and kinship care. We've been doing this show for I think, 17 plus years. So as a result, we have got so many great passions, all of that is available to you, if you subscribe on whatever app you're listening to a podcast on, you can subscribe to the creating a podcast, Christopher, another joy, another reason to be a foster parent.

Speaker 3  31:41  
It has allowed me to be that parent. And I think I've got one better on most parents, because I've got to parent multiple kids, when I say multiple, more than what any family normally would have children was and to me, that's a huge blessing for me and my wife, because we've been able to be that parental figure. And we enjoy being the parental figures to the children. And to me, that is probably one of the biggest joys, you know, just being a foster parent itself, that we have the multiple children involved in our lives, and we're involved with theirs. And it piggybacks on what they were saying a second ago, we know that we've made a difference in these children, we see them as they come in, we still have they go for the reunification, or to their kinship.

Dawn Davenport  32:38  
Let's say you've mentioned a couple of times the importance of a support system, who is your support system? And just broadly? And how do people create a support system? If they want to become foster parents? And in your case, being a single foster parent makes it all the more imperative, I would think but I would maintain that couples who are doing it needed as well.

Speaker 1  32:59  
Yeah, so for me, I mean, my family was really supportive initially. So I'm very blessed to have very involved parents and strong friendship group. Also at my church, we actually have a very strong foster care support network and ministry. And so that has been a huge part. So that's one of the support groups that I attend. And being able to be really involved with people in my life, I've been able to build up that support network. So that's my primary support.

Dawn Davenport  33:32  
Katrina as a respite provider, I can understand that. Some would say, Well, you're not keeping the kids for that long. So you really, the needs of having a support outside external support system are not that great. Would you agree with that, that the needs are not as great when you're when you're a respite?

Speaker 2  33:50  
No, because when they're in your home, I mean, I still need the support, they're still gonna be having the same behaviors, and the same issues that they have when they're in the home of the foster parent. And that's where that support system really comes in? I think so. No, I think you still need that support system, of which I have a wonderful one. Yeah.

Dawn Davenport  34:12  
And is your support. Obviously, you're married. So your husband is a support? Who else provides the support for you, as you parent? You've mentioned the children's foster parents, which I think it's a beautiful relationship that you've been able to establish that.

Speaker 2  34:27  
Well, as far as my family, I have two adult children, and they've been a huge support. And I have two grandchildren, ones in elementary school or once in middle school. And believe it or not, you can't believe what a support they are. Oh my goodness, especially my grandson, who's only nine, who has been a great great, great playmate for lots of different kiddos that have been in my home. And also not that he's perfect, but I think he's been a good model for behavior. You're around some of the kiddos that we've had. But I would say the profit organization that we went through the person that is assigned to us, and that does our visits quarterly, I would say they've probably been one of my biggest support systems is that profit entity that we went through? Yeah,

Dawn Davenport  35:19  
we preach that a lot that when choosing an agency to get licensed with, it's easy to think of the short term, they convenience up front and things like that. But what you really need is someone who's going to be there for the long walk, right? Somebody is going to be there at six o'clock on a Saturday night type of thing to answer questions, like, yeah, how am I supposed to handle this? Or whatever? Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  35:43  
yes. All right, I'm

Dawn Davenport  35:44  
just gonna open it up, does anybody else have a joy that we have not addressed?

Speaker 2  35:50  
You know, one of the joys that I have is, I was always raised, that you need to figure out what your talents are. And somehow you need to be able to give those back to somebody else. And there's a lot of things I could do to give back to somebody. But I feel like one of my talents, or one of my gifts is working with kids. And I will say that loving these kids that have come in my home and having fun with them. One selfish thing that I feel like my husband and I have gotten from fostering is setting an example for our grandchildren. And just setting an example that you treat everybody the same way. And people come from all different walks of life. And people come and they have lots of material things. And people may not have bought some material things. And people may be really good at basketball, or they may have never held a basketball on their hand. But you treat everybody the same. And you find some kind of commonality. And then you just run with it. Like my grandson the other day, he came over Christmas break because I was keeping a little girl over Christmas break because her foster mom, of course, had to go back to work. The little girl was still out of school. And I was thinking, Well, I'm not sure how this is going to work out. Because it was a little girl and my it was my grandson that was coming. Well, within about 15 minutes. They had taken all the places that he hasn't looked at in probably five years that I just had tucked away. And they set up a restaurant down in my basement. And we're inviting my husband and I to come down and sit in order some food, oh, they also had music, which was nice. I sit there. And you know, I'm so glad that my grandson gets exposed to this in he has no idea that during that day, not only was he playing with food and setting up restaurant, but he was learning how to just be a friend to somebody no matter who it is, no matter whether they have the same interest. Because I knew when he was coming over, I thought oh my god, because all he wants to do is play football. But you know, it didn't take them very long to figure out but they could just set up a play restaurant. And they had fun doing that for like two and a half hours or so. Yeah. Anyway, this may be kind of selfish, but I get joy from knowing that young people around me will realize that in life, you got to figure out what you can do what your talents are to help somebody and mom just happened to be working with kids.

Dawn Davenport  38:41  
Loving on kids, you could have worse talents. For sure. Alyssa are Christopher to either of you have a joy that we haven't touched on? Yeah,

Speaker 1  38:51  
I was going to say something kind of along the same lines. But for me, watching my son be a foster brother has been a really huge joy. My son I adopted he came to me as a newborn. As you mentioned in my bio, he was my first placement and throughout the years watching him love on kids like right now he's the only child in our home and he's like, when are we getting more kids? Because yeah, he just loves the kids. Primarily he loves when we have babies here we'll hold and feed a baby and love on that baby and sing to him. And so watching just his care has been a huge joy. It's also hard right? You have to walk through but he gets so excited if I let him know like, Hey, I might be going hospital to pick up me he is elated and he wants to show off his new brothers or sisters to whoever he has been the ownership that he has in our fostering journey is a huge joy. We

Dawn Davenport  39:51  
so often. I mean one of the primary reasons that people stopped fostering our disruptive placement is because of children already in their home and something not working out. So it is good to hear the positives that come from being a foster sibling or a foster grand sibling to someone. Yeah, cuz we more often hear the, okay didn't work out. And if I had to choose, I'm gonna choose my own child blah, blah, blah. Yeah. All right, Christopher, I'm gonna give you the final say, any joy that you have not shared or that we have not discussed? Well,

Speaker 3  40:23  
mom's kind of on the same kind of lines, but maybe a little different. I have two adopted children that come out of this system. And I have a third one that we're starting all that process. And so I have 130, this year, one of the 17 this year and one of the two new this year. Talk

Dawn Davenport  40:40  
about spreading yours out.

Speaker 3  40:41  
Yeah. You know, watching my 16 year old, we just finalized and adopted a couple of months ago on really kind of mature a little bit because she's very mature and very naive. I have to really keep an eye on her a lot for watching how she relates with the 17 months old. And like my little sister, you know, type thing that's kind of really bringing me like, wow, but one of the things that I'll touch base on the joy is the fact that we can have multicultural families and foster care. So everybody is being able to see and get away from all the stereotypes, I can see that not all this race is like this, or this religions like that, they can see that we're all alike, it makes things a lot easier when it's blended like this. And you can show that, and seeing them all get along and not have all the stereotypes. And that is a joy there. Because you're able to do something that is really hard on a lot of regular families. Because you're not going to be a lot of multicultural, you're not going to have Hispanic or African American and whites all in one house, you're not going to have Catholics or even Joe witnesses or atheist in one house, and most places, and all of a sudden, they're all living together. And they all get to see, hey, we're pretty much the same. We just have some different ideas and a little bit of Hue to our skin or something. And so that is one of the joys there, you know, I like to see them all getting along all these children with the different backgrounds and stuff. Once it's left the house, they still refer to each other their brothers. You know, some of my former kids keep up with me. I've even had some from Tennessee, this, you know, keeps up with me. And that was back in 2000 789. Some of these kids it was in my house, they still give up thank God for social media, right.

Dawn Davenport  42:43  
Not spoken very often. And 2020 For

Speaker 3  42:49  
that one found me. And then the other one found me because they had become friends. And they went to school together. And they were like, Oh, we talked her home foster parents. Oh, will you talk to me too. And I'm like, Of course I will. I've had one come visit me when we were living at the beach that we love Tennessee, when we go to North Carolina. You know, we were down here for 18 years, I had one of them come down with their family and hung out with us for a couple of days. And that was that was awesome to have that. I sent one some pictures recently when we had her as a child, and she was like, Oh, my God, my daddy and doesn't have none of this stuff. And you're giving me all these pictures that we had, you know, that made me feel good. It really, really did. Because she didn't have no pictures of that timeframe. And she was like two and a half years. No pictures from that timeframe. And her dad didn't even know she existed. But she stepped up and did everything he had to to get her so he didn't have another former child, baby or anything. I wish I had more than that. But she was so appreciative having those pictures. And see that's the type of stuff that I try to explain to people when they give me the objection of becoming foster parents. Oh, I couldn't give them back. Well, you want them to go back to their normalcy in their families. And you know, adoption should be a last resort. Because it is permanency Yes. But it should be a last resort. If they can't be with their birth family. And I get it we have to make those sacrifices, like myself, I'm willing to adopt children as my own. Most of you are and I was gonna say to the one lady there does respite, you're probably everybody's best friend in your agency. That is the one thing I hear. But they promised me respite. I don't get no risk. But you say you're getting joy out of doing the respite for your stories. But yeah, that's where I would go see him the difference that you made, like I said, and that really made my day when I was able to see her pictures and she was like, Yeah,

Dawn Davenport  44:42  
I will throw out there that we have been asked her more than one occasion to do creating a family podcast on becoming a respite provider. It's in our plan sometime for 2024. We booked quite a bit in advance so it won't be q1 but Some time we will be doing that because Christopher, you are so right that there is such a need and it feels more doable for many people because depending on the stage of your life, whether you can have the child full time. So thank you so much, Christopher James, Katrina Candler, and Lisa floating for being with us today to talk about the joys of being a foster parent. You guys have listed so many I think that it will make a difference in a lot of people's lives. So thank you.

Unknown Speaker  45:28  
Thank you.

Dawn Davenport  45:31  
And before you go, let me shout out thank you. Thank you Vista Del Mar. They are a licensed nonprofit adoption agency and they've been working on placing kids and families for over 65 years. They have a home study only service as well as a full service and fit and adoption program and international home study program and post adoption support. They also have a foster to adopt program. You can check them out online at vista del

Transcribed by