May is National Foster Care Month
By Michele Morrissey
LUK is a proud supporter of National Foster Care Month, and you should be too! Each May the President offers a yearly proclamation supporting the Children's Bureau in their efforts to recognize the work of foster families, social workers, faith-based and community organizations, and others who are improving the lives of young people in foster care. The President’s proclamation also encourages all Americans to participate in efforts to serve foster children throughout the year.
Honoring, Uniting and Celebrating Families is the theme for May 2016. This provides an opportunity to acknowledge foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals, and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections. During National Foster Care Month, we renew our commitment to ensuring bright futures for the more than 400,000 children and youth in foster care. At LUK, we recognize our families during National Foster Care Month by providing a Community Day In the Park and an Appreciation Brunch.
Dear Foster Parents,
First, let me start off by saying thank you.
Thank you for the commitment to provide a safe loving home for children you have no prior connection to or knowledge of.
Thank you for the good you are bringing into this world.
Thank you for being positive role models in our community.
Thank you for referring your friends to LUK.
Thank you for putting up with numerous people entering your home on a routine basis.
Thank you for the time and extra expenses you have put into helping these children have a happier, more successful future.
Thank you for enduring and persevering through the obstacles you encounter everyday as a foster parent.
Perhaps, after reading that, you’d think that I was fostered at some point in my life, but it's actually the complete opposite. I grew up with two loving parents and had no knowledge of foster youth while growing up. However, growing up in a two parent, safe, loving home is not the case for every child. Unfortunately life happens, things go wrong and innocent children end up needing safe, loving homes. Thankfully, there are people like our LUK foster parents who step up and dedicate their life to helping others. Their huge, caring hearts make up for the adults whose hearts aren't as big and whose arms aren't as wide open.
In the spring of 2011, I joined LUK and began my journey into the foster care world. I have watched numerous families make an extremely courageous and selfless decision to foster children in need.
The process for becoming a foster parent takes quite a while due the lengthy application requirements. The length of times gives families plenty of chances to change their minds about becoming foster parents. I am thankful for the families who stuck with the process and became licensed foster parents. However, neither the immense amount of paper work or unimagined number of tasks that needed to be completed got in the way of numerous families decisions to move ahead with the process.
One particular family sticks out in my mind as I began my journey into foster care right around the same time the “Rodriguez” family began their formal training in CPR and First Aid. They first reached out to LUK in April of 2009. Their licensing process was completed in October of 2011 and throughout the past 5 years Jose and Juanita have impressed and exceeded all limits and expectations when it comes to fostering.
Before Juanita and Jose, my image of the foster care program was a lot different, and I can thank Lifetime movies and ABC Family for that one. The difference? The “Rodriguez” family has raised two children of their own, and the foster parents are retired and have plenty of time and attention to give to youth in their home. Juanita and Jose have done everything in their power to provide for these children as if they were their own, and I could not be more inspired than I am when I think about the great things they are doing.
Imagine welcoming children into your home, giving them everything and anything that you could to help prepare them for a better future. Raising them as if they were your own, loving them more and more with every passing day. Hearing them call you "Mommy" and "Daddy", teaching them how to share, dropping them off at school, and then one day having to say goodbye for good. That's something I can't even begin to imagine, yet we all know that's almost always the case with fostering.
It's now been five years the Rodriguez family welcomed their first youth into their home. They have had 6 youth in their home throughout the past 5 years, all of whom have flourished and were loved. The most recent has been there since 2012 and it looks like they will be saying goodbye to her sometime within the next month. She is graduating high school and preparing to enter college in the fall.
I am so thankful to have this family as part of LUK. It takes a lot to become foster parent. You must have courage, patience and you must also be selfless. A lot of people cannot handle the pressure and complications that come with being a foster parent, which is why we must appreciate and thank the ones who are.
So if you are, were previously, or intend on becoming a foster parent...THANK YOU!