As a local parent, I am impressed with the wonderful, safe, family-oriented environment our communities have to offer. Our schools are among the best in Washington, due in large part to the tremendous amount of parent involvement and volunteer time given by the families, and we have every type of activity imaginable for kids to participate in. That being said, I often wonder if my children have been exposed to enough life experiences to help them be successful in the long run.
Two years ago, I discovered a group that I did not know existed. I met local parents who were raising their own children and were also foster parents. They opened their homes and hearts to children whom they had never met. They took these children into their homes and treated them as their own, set plates at the table for them, enrolled them in school, wiped away tears, took them to doctor appointments and gave them a chance for normal lives while their biological families and the courts dealt with “adult stuff.” I was intrigued by the life lessons to be learned through fostering and after making what must have been a pretty convincing pitch to my husband, my family set out to support foster families by providing respite for them.
One year ago this month, we took the leap and became foster parents ourselves. We decided to limit our foster license to babies in order to keep the harmony in our home, since we already had our own school-age children. Immediately we were asked to take a beautiful baby girl into our home while her father’s paternity was established. In addition, we fostered two other babies for several days before we decided that we could not foster birth date twins (too many diapers and not enough sleep). Our foster daughter was with us for 11 months before she was adopted by her wonderful aunt, who happened to live locally. As a result, we have gained lifelong friends and will be blessed with watching that amazing little girl grow up with her biological family.
I have seen firsthand the impact the love and care of foster family can have in helping to provide a solid foundation for a child in need and, because of that, I am now a foster parent recruiter and liaison for an organization called “Fostering Together.” My position has allowed me to the calm fears and misconceptions of foster parenting. One of the most common concerns that prospective foster parents have is “how will fostering impact my children?” Of course we are cautious when we invite any new person into our lives, but I can say without a doubt that the life lessons that your family can learn through fostering are priceless. At the same time, your family will learn that given the care and love of a foster family, a child born into these circumstances can be given a chance for a better life and that sharing and helping others is important. Finally, your children will learn that the safe home you work so hard to provide for them is not to be taken for granted.
Please consider joining our family in helping families and children in our community. If you are not sure if fostering is for you, there are still many other ways you can help. Please feel free to look at our Web site, www.fosteringtogether.org, for more information on the foster parent licensing process and other opportunities to help.
Ellen Lamb is the wife of Steven Lamb and they and their three children. She works with foster parents in south King County