When I think of one word that describes foster parents, it’s empathetic. This family embodies that well. Erin is a single mom to her daughter Rae and together they are a passionate team. Erin started fostering with DSS 20 years ago, but her roots in sharing her home started as a child when her parents found themselves opening their homes to pregnant teens. Adding to her family is something she said she feels is just in her blood and something that gave her the strength to become a single mother. She took a break when her daughter was between the ages of 3 and 13, but during that time she was able to support her sister who had begun fostering in another state. This family is living a legacy of empathy.
Erin has had over 25 children in her home and her experience began when she was able to visit a children’s home with one of her students to take him on a special birthday trip. She fell in love with the kids there in the group home and knew she needed to do more. A special education teacher for over 30 years, this mamma has dedicated her life to children and now she is passing that love on to her own daughter. Erin said that they work as a team and when she gets tired from being a single mom, her daughter just jumps in to help tuck kids in bed, fix their breakfast, and gives her the ability to take a few quiet moments for herself. It was actually Rae at 13, who insisted they open up their home when she began fostering again.
My favorite part of this family’s interview was when Erin shared that her favorite part of fostering was letting the kids go to their forever home, whether that was being reunited with their biological family or moving on to their adoptive families. So often it’s difficult to imagine letting go of a child, but Rae is confident that the best thing for a child is the feeling of belonging in a permanent placement, and she trusts that she and her daughter together are providing a stepping stone to the best life for the child. I could write a book about the wisdom this Mamma shared, but all in all her legacy of empathy, compassion, and love are the greatest marks she leaves for us all. She and her daughter are proof that family is what you make it and that love knows no borders, and with it and a strong support system, just about anything is possible.