Meet Mary – mother, wife, and the voice behind Adoption and Foster Care, a blog that has become an outlet for her to share her thoughts and experiences as an adoptive and foster mother in an attempt to educate, advocate, and occasionally vent.
Mary and her husband first opened their home to Justin in November 2006. So far, she has given a sense of normalcy to seven foster children. In March of 2008, their family adopted a beautiful daughter and welcomed Madison into their family for good.
Mary recently highlighted Together We Rise on her blog and graciously shared some of her experiences and wisdom from six years as a foster mom.
What first interested you about foster care?
I’ve always been interested in child welfare but it wasn’t until I was in college and listening to a presentation on the need for foster parents and what is required to be a foster parent that I thought, “Hey- this is something that I could actually do (instead of just thinking about doing in the back of my mind).” My husband wasn’t too keen on the idea at first. But after facing some of our fears and concerns we took our first foster placement five years into our marriage. We didn’t have any children at the time and it just seemed like the right thing to do.
What do you think would be the greatest gift you could give to a foster child?
Confidence in themselves and a sense of security that they are cared for and their needs will be met. I think both of those are best accomplished by validating their feelings and needs and letting them know that they matter.
What’s been your most memorable experience while being a foster parent?
One of the most rewarding and unexpected aspects of being a foster parent for me is not just helping our foster children but seeing families come back together (in the successful cases) and earning their parents’ trust. For example, our first foster child’s parents invited us to their child’s birthday party after he left our care. Another of our foster children’s parents expressed their thanks in helping to care for their child.
At the end of a hard day battling the system, what keeps you going?
There’s a couple of things that keep me going. First, I need to remember that it’s not about me- it’s about the children. Second, love is much more powerful than frustration, doubt, discouragement, or fear.
If your family were to be on the news in five years, what would the story be about?
That we suddenly had enough money to buy a huge house and adopt a sibling group (or two) from foster care!
What’s one piece of wisdom you would like to share with prospective foster parents?
Don’t let fear hold you back from making a difference in someone’s life.