Choices For Life

Saying "I love you" & meaning every word ...

Walt Whitman spoke of a child that came and went every day.  In his poem "There Was a Child Went Forth," the child looked upon things in his surroundings and slowly became the object that he saw.  The child in Whitman's poem is a lot like a foster child.  A child can come and go and is always affected by the things around him.  As the child in the poem, our dwellings shape our character, influence the way we think and even our personality, as well as the kind of life we live.

Foster children come into your home feeling very alone, yet like all children, they need love and have lots of love to give.  All children have a need for understanding, security, and acceptance, which is essential for a child's stability. A child needs healthy attachments, allowing a child to love, to become a good friend, and to have a great model for future relationships.  A family is very important for this, and that is why we have decided to take the step to become foster parents.

We do not have any grandchildren, and we have decided that it was about time that we had some kids running around the house.  We know there are lots of children in need of a home full of hope and love, a healing environment.  Our main goal is to change and influence a child's life in a positive way by providing a loving and caring home for those in need.  We want to give these children a life that is rich with family, friends, and personal growth.  

Being a foster parent is about providing a structured and organized environment. It is astounding how many positive changes you can see in children who come from such harsh backgrounds.  After they learn that they can depend on you, we've seen them learn boundaries, stop hitting other children, learn how to get along with others, and share.  They take their place in a family and truly learn the meaning of love and being loved.

When thinking back about all our foster children, the most meaningful thing that the children have given us are not objects that we can hold. It is memories of the kids reaching for us and hugging us before they say goodbye, and hearing them say "I love you" and meaning every word. Everyone wants to be needed and loved, even foster parents.  It's a blessing to have these children in our lives.

Choices for Life helps equip and support foster parents with educational training, helping to familiarize the parent with what to expect and how to deal with different children and diverse situations.  They not only prepare the foster parent for the child coming into the home, but they help with situations when they arise.

Being a Choices for Life therapeutic foster parent is very rewarding.  To have children come into your home with nothing and to be able to clean them up and transform them is sometimes amazing - it is like nothing else.  To see a child go home after their parents have completed training and to know that you have changed that child's life forever is a wonderful feeling.

One of the major struggles of foster parenting is hearing children cry at night wanting their parent.  Comforting them is not always enough, but with time, they will learn that you will give them a safe place to stay until they can return home to their family.  It can be hard dealing with the constant struggles of fighting at school, wetting the bed, and being defiant.  These are just a few problems, but in the end, the good always outweighs the bad because we are making a positive influence in these kids' lives.

When making the decision to become a therapeutic foster family, I (Karen) checked out agencies all over town. I was able to speak to someone on the other line that was courteous and respectful and able to answer all my questions.  When a real crisis or emergency arises,  I want to be able to talk with someone, not an answering machine.  Life happens.  When it does, you don't want to get an answering machine.  You want to be able to speak to a person.  That is why we chose Choices for Life.  They have always been there to answer our call.

Listening to and comforting a child will have a critical, long-lasting effect on a child's life.  It's a positive impact to help a child recognize and change their life.  Being a foster parent and spending time with these children has been one of the best choices that we have ever made.