In 2009, Chad and Pam spent their free time helping with homework at Pendleton Place, a home for teens in foster care. Twice a week, this couple invested not only in the academic achievement of the young people they met, but spent time forming relationships and really getting to know who they were. This was significant for them. It was clear that these relationships were meaningful not only to Chad and Pam, but to the teens also. Over time the teens realized that there were people who cared about them, who wanted to talk to them and get to know them – by choice! Chad and Pam continued to become more and more involved – spending holidays and free time with them, having fun.
Of course, it wasn’t all fun and games. The struggles that these young people were facing became clear. They needed people who really cared to confide in. They needed mentorship and guidance. So, being the people that they are, Chad and Pam stepped up, becoming mentors through Fostering Great Ideas’ Life Support mentoring program. Little did they know at the time, but this would bring beautiful changes to their lives over the next years.
A child was born in Pam’s family with medical issues and had been placed in foster care in another state. Knowing the realities of growing up in foster care through their volunteering experience, they became licensed foster parents and welcomed the 9 month old baby into their home. Six months later she was adopted, their forever daughter.
They continued mentoring. Chad’s teen would eventually age out and move back in with his mom. Pam’s mentee was soon welcomed into their home. Licensed through SC DSS, Pam and Chad have had multiple children ages 6 months to 17 in their home over the past years. They continue to live life as a family, just an extended one now! They enjoy sharing family meals and hanging out with their sweet “grand-baby” on weekends.
Chad shared that his favorite thing about the experience is reminiscing on his own childhood, realizing what great parents he had. He continues to live out the values his parents taught him. He said they always taught him to “trust others, to see the best in them, and to be a value added to others’ lives.” Foster care has given him a whole new level of gratitude and respect for his parents. Now he loves seeing 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.
For Pam, being able to show love and stability to a child that hasn’t had it is a privilege – one she doesn’t take lightly.
Even though Chad and Pam “eased in” to foster care over time through volunteering, kinship care, and mentorship, they still had some initial fears. Uncertainty can uncomfortable. It can be daunting to attempt to connect with children in your home who you have never met before. It can be stressful when you never know how long anyone will stay with you – what life might look like a year, month, or even a week from now. However, it all seems to work itself out. There is uncertainty in so much of life (even outside of foster care) – 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 “EXACTLY- 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.”
Chad and Pam both work outside the home and describe their family as creative, fun and productive. They enjoy growing, cooking and eating. Their kids love anything that involves a hammer.
Chad says “We have 5 people in our family and we are 5 different colors. I love people’s reactions when they see me with my blonde-haired blue-eyed son and ebony-skinned daughter. Smiles, curious looks, polite comments and sometimes confusion, but mostly smiles.”