Sarah and Chuck’s fostering journey began a few years ago, when they took in their nephew in a kinship placement. Sarah shares, “My wife has always wanted children, and I've always wanted to make my wife happy. We took in her six year-old nephew unexpectedly a couple years ago, and after 10 months he went back to his dad. We absolutely loved having him, and even though the loss at the end was hard, we realized this is something we can do, so we signed up to be foster parents.”
“The biggest challenge of fostering has definitely been the utter powerlessness in the situation… At the end of every day these kids are the greatest rewards, though! They are wonderful and loving, and I genuinely hope they are in our lives forever.”
When asked about the role of community in the journey of fostering, Sarah shared, “Fostering children is like parenting on steroids - everything we do is scrutinized and we have to document constantly. This can become exhausting quickly, so any little help we can get is crucial.”
“When children were first placed with us, we went on overdrive finding resources. We don't have any family nearby, so we built up our community and looked for every foster resource available.” This is when Sarah and Chuck learned about Austin Angels and the Love Box program through a recommendation from a fellow foster parent. Her biggest fear going into the program was that she would be creating more work for herself rather than less, but these fears have since faded, as she says “the program has greatly improved our lives."
“We moved to Texas five years ago and didn't know anyone. We've been working on building up a good support network, and now we have adopted grandparents through the Love Box program!” Not only have their kids benefited, but Sarah and Chuck have also gained a trusted set of confidants through the program. “I have personally gained friendship and support––someone who can double as both a parent figure and a friend to help us through the trickier times. Mickelle texts us constantly to ask what we need or just to check on how we are doing. She will also drop stuff off and take it back if we don't need it. They have us over for dinners (well, pre-COVID) and they have instantly made us a part of their family.”
"We have two elementary-age boys, and their infant brother came to live with us only three weeks ago. our adopted grandparents have been safely visiting, bringing baby toys and supplies, and checking up nearly every day to be sure we are getting by. The baby arrived without a crib – if mickelle hadn't shown up with a pack-n-play, we wouldn't have been allowed to keep their baby brother."
Sarah says that the most important thing for volunteers to give to fostering families is time and consistency. “If someone can be understanding of the endless emotional turmoil of being a foster parent, and that person can continue to reach out and just offer a listening ear or a brief respite––that makes all the difference.”