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Foster parents offer more than safe haven

Editorial by Chris Kovatch

 

This week I want to change things up a bit and share about our decision to become foster parents, the path to get there, and how it changed us.

Christi and I had always talked about having a large family, but I also felt convicted about pursuing adoption. When I graduated from college, my goal was to begin a career with Child Protective Services. The issue I ran into upon graduating is that the State had recently added additional budget cuts and the positions I had anticipated applying for was suddenly non-existent. Life has a funny way of working things out. I decided that while my career plans went a different direction that we could still make an impact on a child’s life by being foster parents with the goal of becoming adoptive parents at some point.

We began the process by attending an informational meeting that highlighted the necessary training, background checks, and home studies. We jumped into the process full force. In the grand scheme of things, even though the process was quite intensive, and for good reason, it moved along rather smoothly. We completed our training and home studies. The Health and Fire Inspectors cleared our house for the program. I find it important to note that my children should feel much safer as we added smoke detectors to every room of the house. After all of the required tasks were complete, we received our license.

Almost immediately, we received a call for a placement. We had originally decided that we wanted to open our home to one child, no older than our oldest. That was our only real stipulation. The call we received was for a sibling group. The goal is to keep siblings together. As we began to process the request we soon came to the realization that with 4 or 5 kids (at this point we had our 3 biological children) our life would be crazy either way, so we moved forward hoping this was the path that we were supposed to take.

Annabel and Daniel were with us for 5 short months, but it seemed like forever. They were instantly part of our family. The goal in foster care is almost always reunification with their biological parents, but that doesn’t stop the bond from developing between a foster parent and the children. I won’t lie and say that when they returned home that it was easy to handle. It wasn’t. I just have to believe that God brought them into our lives for a reason; that the time that they spent with us made some sort of impact that changed their life for the better. These days they live with their uncle and look happy and healthy. I really couldn’t ask for more.

Almost immediately after they returned home Summer and Stryker joined our brood. They lived with us for about a year and half before we adopted them. During that time we worked hard to ensure if they returned home that they were in a place developmentally that they needed to be. Summer went through behavioral and speech therapy to catch her up to children her age. Stryker was just 4 months old when he came to us, so we were able to ensure he was on the proper path developmentally from pretty much day one.

Summer and Stryker are as much part of our family as are our biological children. We even like to say that with Stryker’s infatuation with fast cars and motorcycles that he is more Kovatch that all of the other kids.

The whole process has taught us quite a bit. It has helped us to look past stereotypes and hopefully we help others in the same way. I had a certain stereotype in my mind about foster parents prior to becoming one and I can say I couldn’t have been farther from the truth. The foster parents that I have come to know are some of the most loving and generous people I have ever encountered. We do get a number of strange looks when we go out to eat or go shopping, but instead of using those as something negative, we like to use them as an opportunity to share how fostering and adoption can change the life of a child. If you have ever considered this path or have questions, I urge you to reach out to our local CPS office for information. Unfortunately, there are a number of children who need a home. Think of the impact you could have on a child’s life by stepping up and opening your home.