First Easter Basket at 15: Local Foster Family Treasures Their New Teen Foster Son
Contributed by a Local Foster Mom we serve—
Our story begins with a nagging feeling that there was a local boy who needed us. We had no one particular in mind, so my husband and I began the process to become certified foster parents to see if we could find him.
Fast forward ten months, we were now licensed and had requested to be matched with a 10 to 14 year old boy. Then, the day came that we were referred a 14 (close to 15) year old boy, N. We had to work through some concerns we had. Is he too old to be able to change bad habits if they arise? Is his local biological family going to be a positive or negative influence in all of our lives? We met him for the first time, and he was quiet and guarded. These visits went on for several months. Our caseworker said she wished he would show us his true personality. We did too! I could feel that he was holding back. My intuition told me there were important things he wasn’t sharing with us. He was hesitant to trust us, and let us in. After all, he’d been let down by trusted adults many times before. Change for him had always been negative and fear-inducing, so he was resistant to leave the group foster home in which he lived for the past several years. Over time, it had become his safe place. His best friend J, recently moved from the group home to a foster home, counseled him through this decision. We found this out after the fact. J explained the benefits to N that this change would bring to his life. His grief counselor at the group home did the same. Meanwhile, we prayed and asked all of our praying friends (and their congregations) to pray too. N pushed back the move-in date because he was scared. He had fears of his own. What would we do the first time he disappointed us? How would we react when he messed up?
In his bio, it stated that he was hoping for a single-parent family with a dog. We are two parents, with two instant siblings and no dogs but cats! Over several months, we all worked through all of this, and we had a move-in date set. The week before he was to move in we went to visit friends a few hours drive away, our first out of town trip with him. On the drive there we said “Why don’t you just not go back to your group home at the end of the weekend as had been planned?” He wholeheartedly agreed. I contacted his caseworker immediately before he changed his mind! Sadly, for legal reasons she informed us that we had to stick to the original planned date, but she was very happy things were going well. That week went by slowly until move-in Friday came.
N has now been with us full-time for about three months. The relationship, once awkward, is getting better every day. We are encouraging and helping him with his schoolwork, and his grades are improving. We have worked through a couple hiccups, as a family, like we always have in the past our other two children who are also adopted. The transition for N has been pretty smooth. He was able to attend the very same school since moving in with us. His caseworker thinks it is amazing that we were right down the road from him all this time, so his school and circle of friends remained the same. We have met his two best friends, and both settled into their foster families a few months before our son. They are all wonderful boys. We’ve become friends with their new families and the boys all spend time at one another’s new homes on weekends. We have also gotten to know some of N’s bio family. They tell us they can tell he is happy. We’re going to surprise him with a get-together with his bio sister and her foster family in a few weeks, so N can see her sing in church. We are experiencing “firsts,” like you would with a younger child. First Easter basket, first personalized gift with his name, first birthday party. It is sad, yet rewarding, to provide him with these firsts!
We have also experienced crazy coincidences throughout this journey. When some close friends asked for a teenager’s wish list from their “angel tree “at work, they received our N’s wish list! So they purchased the listed gifts for him anonymously. When our neighbor asked the name of our referred boy, we told them and it turns out their son and our soon-to-be son were already good friends! We believe that a miracle has happened right here in our county, that these three teenage boys have found their foster-adoptive families within a few short months of each other, and that these families who didn’t know one another at the time were willing to take a risk on a teenage boy. We encourage everyone reading this to be courageous! Embrace and walk through the awkwardness and take a chance on an older child in foster care and know that you will not be doing it alone and that these kids are worth it.