The journey of fostering for this family began in 2009 hanging out with some teenagers at Pendleton Place Children’s Home. At the time, they were helping with homework twice a week which allowed them to really get to know the girls and form relationships with them. They realized something truly significant, which was just how important it was for them to have someone there to talk to that wasn’t paid to be there. They needed to have someone to confide in that was choosing them on purpose, outside of those who were paid to care for them. This led them being involved in nearly every facet of the girls lives from holidays to activities just to have fun. About a year and a half into their time with the girls at Pendleton Place a child was born in Pam’s family with medical issues and had been placed in foster care in another state. Because of their experience with the girls they knew the realities of growing up in a group home and they were able to bring her into their home as a foster child at 9 months old and a forever daughter six months later!
At the same time, they were seeing the struggles of the teenagers which led them to becoming mentors with Fostering Great Ideas Life Support Program. Chad’s teen would eventually age out and move back in with his mom and Pam’s mentee would become their second foster child. Licensed through DSS, Pam and Chad have had 6 children ages 6 months to 17 in their home over the past 5 years. Their 17 year old foster daughter is now an adult in a healthy relationship with an 18 month old daughter of her own. She calls Pam “Pam Mom” and Chad “Chad Dad” and they continue to live life as a family, just an extended one now! They share family meals, hang out time and get to keep their sweet “grand baby” on weekends or just because.
Chad shared that his favorite thing about the experience so far is reminiscing back on what great parents he had and in trying to live out the values they taught him. He said they always taught him to trust others, to see the best in them and to be a value added to other’s lives. He said a whole new level of gratitude and respect for his parents and hopes to be able to pass that along to the children they are blessed to care for. He also said it has also been such a joy to see his parents take on the role of grandparents to the children they have brought into their home adding another layer of family to these children’s lives while also impacting their own. Pam echoes those sentiments and adds that being able to show love and stability to a child that hasn’t had it is a privilege and one she doesn’t take for granted.
Currently they have three children in their home. 5 year old, Elodie and 4 year old, Jakob, were both adopted from foster care and they are joined by a two year old girl who has been with them since she was 5 months old. Overcoming the fear of the unknown, wondering how to connect with these children and just not knowing how long anyone will be with you were their initial fears, but that all just seems to work itself out. Some children have moved on and some have stayed and they have realized those same fears exist in lots of things; a new job, a biological child, marriage, friendship or moving. Chad said you just have to have the faith that things will work out right and eventually it becomes a new normal.
Something every foster parent hears is “I could never foster, it would be so hard to give the child back.” Chad and Pam say this is such a motivation TO FOSTER and he said his response is always “EXCACTLY- that’s why you SHOULD be a foster parent- because it would be hard for you to give the child back. If it would be easy for you to give someone back you shouldn’t do it. Every kid deserves someone who will love and cherish them as their own child. So, yeah, it’s hard, but that’s what makes it so good.” I don’t think there’s a better response out there!
Chad and Pam both work outside the home and describe their family as creative, fun and productive. They enjoy growing, cooking and eating and he said their kids love anything that involves a hammer. One thing is certain, it is refreshing and encouraging to see how this family embraces their unique dynamic. Chad says “We have 5 people in our family and we are 5 different colors. I love people’s reactions when they me with my blonde haired blue eyed son and ebony skinned foster daughter. Smiles, curious looks, polite comments and sometimes confusion, but mostly smiles.”
We wish you many more curious souls, smiles and we thank you for saying yes to the unknown and having faith that these seasons of finding those “new normal’s” were the perfect kinds of normal for you!