Foster Care Month: Beth’s Story
May is National Foster Care Month, a time to acknowledge foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals and other members of the community who help those in foster care find permanent homes and connections.
Beth is a former Wellpoint Care foster parent who became licensed in August of 2020. She was kind enough to share the following account of her experience, in the hopes of showing others how easy the process could be.
I have always loved children. In December 2019, I was visiting my family before the holidays, and found myself getting baby fever while watching my cousins’ children grow up way too fast.
When I made an off-the-cuff remark about wanting to care for a baby of my own, my cousins, who had been active foster parents for many years, responded with, “You should be a foster parent!”
I immediately laughed it off as a joke, but then stopped myself to ask, “Wait. Why wouldn’t I want to be a foster parent?”
Fostering Caring Connections
In September of 2020, I got the call for my first placement — a four-month-old baby boy. I first met his birth mother at a supervised visitation. She looked very skeptical of me, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being interviewed.
She asked me the one question I was afraid of: “Have you ever been a foster parent before?”
She asked me the one question I was afraid of: “Have you ever been a foster parent before?” When I told her this was my first time, I definitely felt judged.
I tried to be as kind and friendly as I could to help put her at ease. I didn’t want her to feel like I was prying, so I asked just one question: “What can I do to help support you?” She was quiet for a few seconds, then answered that she would like me to send her pictures, so she wouldn’t miss him so much.
Learning How to Co-Parent
That one question laid the foundation for our relationship. His mother began to feel more comfortable opening up to me, and it wasn’t long before she shared the background of their situation. The more I learned, the more I realized that there weren’t very many differences between us. If a few things went differently in each of our lives, our positions could have easily been reversed.
Like any relationship, it took time to learn how to communicate. This was during the pandemic, so there were times when we had to cancel or reschedule visits for exposure concerns. We would FaceTime to help bridge the gap between visits, but after talking for just a short while, she would rush to get off the phone. It took me a while to realize it was because she didn’t want to start crying in front of me.
It was a challenge at first to figure out how to co-parent successfully, but once we started it seemed so simple. A diaper rash, a runny nose or spitting up more than usual — it was so easy to send a quick text update and ask for her thoughts. We sent countless messages back and forth brainstorming ways to make him more comfortable during bathtime, which he hated!
Shared parenting seemed obvious to me after we got to know each other, and I realized it was because we both communicated openly and honestly. We kept each other updated so that the transition between visits was almost seamless. It truly felt like she and I were partners, and I was humbled to learn that she felt similarly.
Communication is Key
It was a challenge at first to figure out how to co-parent successfully, but once we started it seemed so simple.
When my cat passed away unexpectedly, I explained my situation and asked if I she was able to take the baby for the night. As I walked up her porch steps carrying her son, the first thing she did was hug me and express her condolences. I’m not sure I could ever really explain how much her support and compassion meant to me at that moment.
At the beginning of our relationship, my main goal had been compassion. She was already being judged by so many other people, I hated the thought of her feeling like everyone was against her. I asked myself, “How would I want to be treated if I was in her shoes?”
By the time she and her son were reunified, I felt genuine excitement and respect for her. She worked very hard and proved the people who didn’t believe in her wrong. I can say today that I love both her and her son very much, and I’m so grateful to be a part of both of their lives.
As a foster parent, your commitment could be just what a biological family needs to heal and reunite. It doesn’t matter your marital status, career or parenting experience. If you’re willing to care for a child who comes into your care, being a foster parent is right for you.
Wellpoint Care Network has a long history of supporting children and families, and we’ve been licensing safe, nurturing foster homes since 1984. Learn more about the process in our online e-learning course, The Basics of Fostering.