Your Love and Empathy Can Change Lives: Interview with Jamie Sandefer

I loved Jamie Sandefer’s keepsake book, Love You from Right Here, so much that I wanted to learn how she was inspired to write it. Below you will find her answers to my questions. Whether you are a current foster parent or thinking about becoming one, her story will inspire you. And I am very excited to learn her updated book edition comes out next month!

Debby with her daughters

How did your experience as a foster mother inspire you to write this book?

Our first foster child was on her 5th move and on top of that, she was coming from an abusive foster home. I wanted a way to tell her that we would be different, and that she could trust us to keep her safe. I wanted to read her a book that would provide comforting words to her, and I wanted it to have illustrations that she could relate to. I wasn’t able to find a resource like that at the time. Also, as new foster parents, we were learning a lot about the system and about what most foster children endure. We were shocked to find out that children in care move an average of 7 times in their lives. With these two thoughts in mind, I knew that I had to create the resource that I was searching for. The keepsake section in the back of the book was inspired by the thought that these children are losing bits and pieces of their story with every move. I wanted a way to help salvage those memories that potentially could otherwise have been lost.

In the book, the mother handles all of the ups and downs of the child with total empathy. Can you offer encouragement to foster parents who feel like they fall short from time to time?

The illustrated version of me handled things very well in the book.  However, in real life, I didn’t always handle things perfectly. Like most foster parents, I struggled with patience and frustration. On those hard days, I would take it moment by moment. Give yourself a time out to step away from a challenging situation and regroup. Think about the heart of the child and what has brought him or her to your home. You may be the first person who has ever loved them through a tantrum or the first person who hasn’t lashed out in rage at their mistakes. The long-term effects of your unconditional love will make the biggest impact on them.  

How do you use books with children affected by foster care?

I’ve found that children who have been through traumatic life experiences often want to talk through things. They don’t usually begin these dialogues, and they typically need help processing what they’ve been through. Books provide the tools we need to help prompt these sensitive subjects. When I read Love You From Right Here to my adopted son, he asks questions about why the girl is coming to the home and he talks through where he thinks the girl is going on the last page. These simple illustrations help us talk through his own story in a healthy way.

We are excited to hear you are planning a second edition! Could you tell us the thinking behind it and when it should be released?

Yes!  I’m so excited about the second edition of the book. We are planning for it to release in October of this year. I wrote the first book based on my own personal foster care story, so the characters resemble me and our foster daughter. Since it’s been published, I’ve had an overwhelming request to offer the book with a diverse representation of men, women, boys, and girls. Each of the characters in the new book resemble a real-life foster mom or dad and their child. My hope and prayer for this second edition is that more people in foster care can relate to every aspect of it. The story and most of the scenes will remain the same, but the characters will better represent the beautiful diversity of foster care. And of course, the keepsake section in the back of the book will remain the same. It’s my favorite part!

What advice do you have for foster parents?

There is so much you will learn along the way. Whether you foster one child or one hundred, each one will help better prepare you for the journey through foster care. Your love for children and your empathy for what they’ve been through will change you, and it will change them. They will be better human beings for being on the receiving end of your love and care. In preparation for the challenging days that you’ll have, I would encourage you to build up a support group around you. You want people in your corner that will provide care to you as the caregiver as well as provide healthy relationships for your child to experience while in your home.  


You can purchase Love You From Right Here on Amazon and other online retailers. For more ideas on books to read for foster families and children in care, check out our recommendations on Pinterest or follow along as Debby reviews more foster care books on our blog.


Are you a foster parent looking for the support and resources that Jamie mentioned are crucial to success? Join our SHAREfostering communities on Facebook for connection to other foster families in your area.

Debby
Debby
Debby is a writer and a mom. Debby freelances as a copywriter and content developer in the Upstate of South Carolina, and is passionate about finding homes for children in foster care. She was introduced to foster care by a friend and decided that although she wasn't in a position to foster, she wanted to do more to help find families for children. Now, she reads all books related to fostering and recommends the ones she enjoys so that you can learn about fostering too! Her post format is book review, followed by an interview with someone who can speak to the book's content. Follow her posts if you are just learning about fostering and unsure about how you want to become involved!

2 Comments

  1. Crystal says:

    I love this. I am wanting to get this book for our family as well!!!!

  2. Heather says:

    This is a wonderful interview! Thank you, Debby, for highlighting Jamie’s beautiful book and her foster-care wisdom. She is such a blessing!

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