Terri was our guest on Foster Friday Live talking about the reasons she decided to become a foster parent, as a single mom to a teenage daughter, and the reasons she keeps going.
Terri currently teaches third grade at an elementary school in the upstate. She has been a foster parent since 2013. Her daughter, Annabel, is 15 now and proves the amazing impact that foster care can have on biological children. A kind, responsible, and mature young woman, Annabel is passionate about foster care as well and talked about it with Greenwood Foster Parent Association at a recent event. Terri and Annabel work together to make decisions about their continued steps with foster care. They’ve had a total of eight placements.
Terri feels foster care connects her daughter with the community and teaches her how important serving is, calling her an “engaged citizen.” Like many, fostering had been on her heart for years before she actively pursued it. Terri’s faith is incredibly important to her and informs how she approaches foster care. Terri says, “ In the bible, God consistently calls on His people to look after the oppressed. Even though the calling was clear, I still had many hesitations. As a single mom, I wasn’t even sure if it was allowed.”
Although Terri knew she felt called toward foster care for awhile, it was a personal experience that made it clear she had to take action. “One day, as I was teaching first grade, a child was called from my class to never return. I wasn’t told until the end of the day that she was taken into DSS custody. She didn’t collect her school supplies. She didn’t get to say goodbye. She was just taken without notice.” Seeing first hand a child’s life being impacted by foster care broke her heart and she immediately started the licensing process. After all, she says, “we had an extra bed.”
Terri discovered that many single adults (men and women) are foster parents. It is recommended that single parents, just like couples, consider their support system and who will help to care for the children that enter their home. Many single foster parents rely on extended family, friends, or their church for support during the process. “I’ve gotten to know many (other single foster parents) over the years. It’s so important to have a strong support system because sometimes it does get difficult. Like when you wake up and pee is all over the floor because he didn’t want to pee on top of the toilet paper in the toilet…”
We talked about remembering why she got started as a foster parent on the hard days or when she gets discouraged. Luckily, she has found a very strong support group in Greenwood. Terri got plugged in to her local Foster Parent Association, even serving as Secretary for some time, and found a tremendous outpouring of love, support, and resources. “We help meet each other’s needs and that helps keep me going.” She also finds support from her small groups at church who continue to help with new placements by babysitting, providing meals, and helping to run errands. Sometimes it can be hard to know how to ask your community for support, but accepting help as it is offered can make a big difference in how challenging foster care feels. Once you learn what is most helpful with a new placement or a continuing placement, reaching out to your support team and telling them how they can help in specific ways will help you to get what you need.
“Fostering children has been quite an adventure. I look forward to the new hearts we will get to know and guide. I also look forward to what we will learn from them. It’s important to know your limits and to reach out for help. We are here!”
Terri shared some of the placements that made the biggest impact on her family and their hardest goodbyes. She shared some of the unique challenges she has faced, namely kids peeing directly on the floor, and what keeps her going day-in and day-out. She quoted a scripture that is meaningful to her, Galatians 6:9 – “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”