National Foster Care Month – Personal Experience (Part Two)
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In honor of National Foster Care Month, EVOLVE Family Services wanted to honor some of our amazing foster care providers. We asked a few of our providers to answer questions about their experience with foster care so far, what they have learned, and what they want prospective foster parents to know before beginning the process.
Our foster care team interviewed Sabrina Balram about her journey as an EVOLVE foster parent.
Question 1: Can you share a little bit about your foster care journey, including how long you have been providing care and if you are a relative or traditional provider?
“Our foster care journey began in 2018. I woke up on my 24th birthday to the news that my nephew was born and would need immediate care. I jumped in feet first and decided that this is what I needed to do. Being that he was born on my birthday, I knew it was a sign that I needed to do something. I have been caring for this little guy since July of 2018, and I am currently on the road to adoption! I would have never expected this to be the way my life turned out, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!”
Question 2: What has been the most rewarding part of being a foster parent?
“The most rewarding part about being a foster parent has been watching my nephew grow up in a healthy and safe environment where he is thriving. The difference in him from the day he arrived to the person he is today is truly incredible. Since he is a newborn, I have been able to help shape his view of the world around him. I have been able to see him on his worst days and his best. I am able to understand him better than anyone else. At times, I just sit back and watch in amazement at how he has turned out.”
Question 3: What have been some unexpected challenges while providing care?
“There have been many unexpected challenges while providing care. Working with the child’s biological parents and their case plans, visits and communication, the late-night Emergency Room trips, learning what works and what doesn’t work for this child, his likes and dislikes… and the toddler tantrums! But through all of it, I have absolutely loved every moment of it.”
Question 4: What is something you have learned while providing care?
“I have learned how to stay patient and put myself in the child’s position. Moving into the toddler stage, I have noticed the changes my nephew is going through, and I have to remind myself that he is still trying to figure this entire world out.”
Question 5: What are the ways you have continued to practice self-care while providing care?
“When the child in my care goes to sleep, I unwind with my own hobbies… creating items with my Cricut machine, watching my favorite TV shows, drinking tea or adult beverages, and going on social media/Pinterest. I also enjoy talking to my friends and going out once in a while for some alone time. Now that the weather is nice, I have been going on daily walks with him in the stroller to get fresh air!”
Question 6: If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing when you started this journey, what would it be?
“Have confidence. When going into this, I knew it was the right thing to do and what I wanted to be doing… But I had never done it before. While I am a preschool teacher with 8 years of experience, I had never been the sole caretaker of a brand-new little person. It was scary, and I was second guessing everything that I was doing. Looking back now, I did everything right, and hey… nobody’s perfect… I have to remind myself of that.”
Question 7: Anything else you feel would be helpful for prospective foster parents to know?
“Go for it. It is so worth it. The look in their eyes when they look at you, knowing they are safe and loved and cared for… it’s priceless. Have confidence, give it your all, and love that child/those children with everything you’ve got.”
Question 8: What resources have you found most helpful during the COVID-19 situation and what additional support would be helpful?
“I think that it has been really helpful that my EVOLVE family worker is available to encourage me through this challenging time. I have been in a huge transition in my life with being licensed, moving to a new home, taking placement of my grandchildren, and this pandemic. My worker allows me to talk through my frustrations and gives problem-solving solutions. I would love to be in touch with tutors that can help explain to my grandchildren how to do their math. The teachers do not always respond in the same day, but the assignments are due daily.”