Friday, June 5, 2015
JEAN TELLS HOW SHE AND DAVID BECAME FOSTER PARENTS
What started us thinking about becoming Foster Parents was that Bishop Joseph and Martha were Foster Parents. The reason there couldn't take anymore children was that their house was full. Between their own family and Foster Children - they just didn't have anymore room. David and I had thought about becoming Foster Parents and talked about with Joseph and Martha one night at dinner. Joseph and Martha told us all the good you can do being a Foster Parents and some things that might happen that are not so good. So David and I thought about it and prayed about it. One week there was an ad in the paper saying that if anyone was interested in becoming a Foster Parents there was a presentation for all interested people to attend. So we attended.
They told us, like Joseph and Martha, all the good things and the not so good things. What kind of home it takes. What kind of people it takes. Spoke about working schedules, payment, and the type of people they were looking for. They gave us some information to take home. Before we left we have to sign a sheet with our name, address and phone number.
We didn't call them, they called us. They asked what kind of work David and I did. We explained that we were farmers although David does painting and other odd jobs during the winter. They explained that several of the Foster Homes in the area are Old Order Mennonite homes. Old Order Mennonite are prefered because at least one of the parents is home almost all the time. Also, it is a home where a child could learn a trade. Boys in farming and girls in cooking, cleaning, sewing, etc. OOM also has strong religious beliefs. In doing our helping services, we also teach children to help others and introduce them to all kinds of people. The lady went on and on.
Again, we spoke with Joseph and Martha. We prayed and decided to try and see how we made out. So we called the lady back and said we would apply and see what happened.
A lady came to see our house. She went all through it. Being a Foster Parent, the state can come to your house any hour of the day or night they wish to check over your house. They usually come twice a year and call before they come, but they have the freedom to come if there is a problem with a child or parent. Even if it is a rumor problem. So she came and went through the house from the attic to the basement. Checked how many bedrooms we had, the condition of the home, location to the public school, and more. Then she went out in the barns and checked to see how clean the barns were, if there was any danger where a child could hurt and more. We passed.
Once the house was approved, we had to go to the County Building and be finger printed so they could do a background check on us. Also, we had to have three reference letters from people stating they knew us and what they knew of us.
Getting off on the side here, when we moved to the farm we have now and Grandfather Albert and Grandmother Olive moved in, they had to be finger printed because we were a Foster Home. Grandmother Olive went along, but Grandfather Albert was not happy that they did not trust his reputation with the neighbors and members of our church. We tried to explain that we were dealing with the State. Finally, Grandmother Olive talked him into doing it, which he did with a grumble.
Once we got approved, we then took courses to learn all about Foster Children. They taught us from what we provide in the home, how to handle children non-violent and violent, making our home their home and more. I must say, we have never had a child get violent in our home. Have had a few loud disagreements, but never any violence. But in the course, they tell you all these things. They cover about everything you could think of in these courses.
Once approved, we got our first child who only stayed for a week or so while her parents were in a custody court. We did get a baby girl who we thought would remain with us, but she had health conditions so they transfered her to another Foster Home closer to the hospital. Our first child to stay was Michael.
Being a Foster Parent, if the time comes when a child will go up for adoption, aside from family, you are the first that can adopt the child, if you would like. How could we say no when they asked us about Michael. He had been living in our home, become a member of our family, fitted right in. So when the time came, we first asked him if he would allow us to adopt him and when he approved, we did.
There is more to becoming a Foster Home, I just touched on the important details. In New York State a Foster Home receives about $560.00 a month per child. Now that Michael, Edward and Katie are adopted, the only one we receive payment on is Thomas. We also get medical insurance on Thomas provided for by the state. Like I said, we have opened an account for Thomas at the bank. When we receive the check, we deposit it in his account. But if we lived on that $560.00, that isn't much in today's standards for one person. That is why I say, you have to want to help the children more than you receive in payment. I believe that is why there is such a shortage in Foster Homes and why children have come to our house with a bag of worn clothes and shoes with holes in them.
David and I believe that when a child comes through our door they are a member of our family. It is hard for us, especially me to have someone leave, but I understand sometimes they go home to their parents or family. But when they come into our house, live here for months or years - how can I turn them away when we have the choice to adopt them. It would be like sending David Jr. or Susan away. We can't do that. They are our family and with their permission, we adopt them. This is their home. We are their family. They are our family.
Be With God,