Who Are Resource Families?
COBYS Resource Families are married or single persons, families with or without biological children, and families with and without a stay-at-home caregiver. They have a common a desire to share God’s love with children in need through one of three types of foster care. Resource families provide love, guidance, nurture, and structure children need to heal from past experiences and realize their God-given potential.
Here’s a question and answer session with two of our resource families.
1. What led you to consider becoming resource parents? How long have you been resource parents with COBYS?
Rebecca chose to become a resource parent in 2011, as a single adult. Adoption has always been something that God has laid on her heart from an early age, and eventually she ran out of excuses and knew she had to take action, or it would be something she would regret if she never pursued it during her lifetime. Dave began taking resource parent training classes soon after their marriage in 2015. He has always had a heart for missions work and helping others, and agreed to join Rebecca in the adventure of resource parenting. God has written our family’s story from the beginning, and we wouldn’t have it any other way! First, Angela came to live with Rebecca in 2011 as her foster daughter when she was 5 years old, and Rebecca was able to adopt her in 2013. Then, Dave and Rebecca got married in 2015. Then, Carly was able to join our family in 2017 as a foster child at age 13, and was able to be adopted in 2019. Very recently, in 2020, we have welcomed an 11 year old boy into our home as a foster child. Even though he may not be able to stay permanently, we hope that he sees and experiences the love of God while he is here.
2. What led you to consider initially fostering older children? We know that Angela was fostered starting at age five, though foster children by age six are considered older.
I was happy and excited to welcome Angela into my home at age 5, and I was very surprised to find out that even at that age, she was considered an “older child.” I believe it is unfair for a child to be judged according to their age; no matter what age they are, they haven’t asked to be put into the situation of having to leave their birth family, and they need love and support unconditionally. When Angela was 11, we felt we were ready to open our home as resource parents, specifically searching for a girl that would be close to her age and who would be black, so that Angela wouldn’t feel as out of place as the only black child in our family. We were open to the possibility of this child being either slightly older or slightly younger than Angela, and everything fell into place for Carly to join us at age 13. Dave and I are both on the older side ourselves and got married later in life, so we felt we would have less energy to chase after much younger kids, and friends our age would also have children in the pre-teen and teen years already.
3. What would you say are some challenges and joys of fostering and adopting older children? Do you think there are common misconceptions people have about being open to serve as a permanent resource for older children?
Fostering/adopting older children can be more challenging at first, because the child is used to doing things a certain way. It takes a longer adjustment period for them to trust you, but it is well worth it. On the positive side, an older child can bring extra knowledge to your house and more meaningful experiences—for example, Carly was able to teach Angela and myself more about the black culture (especially regarding hairstyles), because she had been raised longer in a black household. When being a resource parent in general (but especially with teens), you need to have a thick skin and flexibility, patience, a sense of humor, and a good support system. For example, they may verbally tell you that they hate you and you are annoying, but their actions show that they care about you and need your love and support. I think this could be said for all teens at some point, but you wouldn’t give up on your biological teen, so why would you give up on a foster/adoptive teen? Also, counseling may need to continue for a longer period with an older child than with a younger child (depending on their needs), but it is invaluable in helping form bonds between teens and adults.
4. What would you say to parents who are considering foster care/adoption generally and then also of older children?
If you are considering fostering or adopting, don’t be afraid to start the process, even as a single person. There are many kids that because of past trauma need just a mom or just a dad. Older kids are great in a lot of ways, because they often have so much insight into their past and their struggles, and can express and work through their struggles better than a younger child could. They want stability and though it can take time for them to feel comfortable with it, they thrive when they have it.
5. Please share an example of a time when you recognized a bond being formed with your children or special experiences that come to mind when you realized that Angela and Carly were meant to be a part of your forever family.
Although it was a huge life change to go from being a single adult to having a daughter, Angela and I bonded quite quickly because I was able to focus all of my attention on her. We are still very close to this day. It’s hard to pinpoint a specific moment when I/we knew that either Angela or Carly was meant to be part of our forever family. You make a choice to love a child unconditionally, because that is what God has done for you, and you stick with that choice over the course of time, and you become closer and closer to each other because of many shared experiences. One funny story happened on the first day that Angela came to my home. Being a vegetarian myself, I asked her what foods she liked to eat, and her first response was “chicken on the bone.” Ha, ha! Even though we don’t have everything in common, we have still come to love each other!
6. You are currently fostering for the third time. Please comment on your thoughts of being open to the foster / adoptive process and experience multiple times.
There were a few reasons for deciding to be open to fostering for the third time—we had moved to a larger house and had an extra bedroom available, we would like more guys in the house for Dave’s sake (ha, ha!), and we already have the experience with the foster care system and with accessing resources for kids that have some special needs and circumstances.
7. If you have experience with this, please comment on the importance of foster, adoptive children receiving specific services like child preparation or therapy, even post permanency services. What has your experience been like with Child Specific Recruitment through which Dashawn has been placed in your home?
We have utilized child prep, counseling/therapy, as well as post permanency services over the years. Although the child may not always feel like participating in it, all of these services have been very beneficial for our family. CSR is more new to us, but it did seem to be helpful in guiding us in the right direction when we were ready for another child in our home. COBYS has guided us well each time, however; even if it wasn’t specifically labeled as CSR before.
8. Feel free to provide any additional information about your family you would want others to know.
Our family has been built by the Lord, step by step, in His timing, and we are grateful to Him for that. Although we wish our kids would not have had to go through the trauma they endured in the past, we know God has a plan for their lives, and it’s wonderful to see that unfolding in front of our eyes.
1. What led you to consider becoming resource parents? How long have you been resource parents with COBYS?
Nikki: I grew up with foster cousins on both sides of my family. I was around 10 years old when I first started to really comprehend and understand what foster care was and why these kids needed a temporary home and family. From that point on I felt that God had placed a calling on my life to be involved in the foster care system in some way. Initially I wanted to only be open to adopting legally free children from foster care because I felt I would get “too attached” and would struggle too much to say goodbye, but through the course of our COBYS training classes God began the work of convicting my heart about who I was really aiming to serve through this ministry. The Holy Spirit prompted the question over and over again in my heart, “is my goal to serve myself or the families we will encounter in this journey?” By the time we were approved it was clear to me that our ministry could not just be about our desires and comfort. We knew we had to be willing to be vulnerable to the heartbreak of saying goodbye in order to serve kids and families more fully.
Todd: For me I had never really thought about being involved in foster care until after our second child was born. Nikki told me how she felt ready to be a foster parent and I told her how I did not want to be a foster parent. I had heard of tales about the troubles of children in foster care and it just seemed like too much work to me. Nikki didn’t give up on me though and she asked me to consider it. So I began to pray about it and through the Scriptures, God gave me a clear direction to take. Again and again I read about orphans and widows needing cared for, justice for the weak and fatherless and finally I read: “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27. I was in. God had made it abundantly clear what direction our family should take and He has been with us through our journey.
We have been resource parents for 3 years now.
2. What led you to consider initially fostering older children / sibling groups?
We knew that there was a greater need for foster parents open to sibling groups and that siblings often end up being separated. We also felt like it would be easier for kids to come to a strange house full of strangers with at least a sibling by their side. And we had always liked the idea of having a big family, so being open to siblings along with our 3 bios seemed like a given to us.
Being open to fostering kids older than our bios took until 2 years into our foster journey. That decision was the culmination of years of seeing profiles of teens waiting for adoption, hearing how great of a need there was for foster parents for teens, reading statistics on the outcomes for teens who age out, and our own experiences with fostering.
3. What would you say are some challenges and joys of fostering older children / sibling groups? Do you think there are common misconceptions people have about being open to serve as a permanent resource for older children?
The first challenge we faced with fostering siblings was getting a new vehicle that was big enough for 6 kids in car seats. Going from 3 kids to 6 with a couple hours notice also brought the challenges of sibling rivalries, competitiveness/jealousy, the struggles of parenting multiple extra kids, having multiple kids in diapers, giving enough individual attention to each child, additional appointments, and saying the right kids name on the first try 😉
The biggest joy of fostering siblings is keeping them from being separated. When kids enter care they lose just about everything they’ve ever known and being able to provide a way for them to not also lose their sibling(s) could be invaluable to them. We also feel like kids are more comfortable coming into a new home when they have familiar faces at their side. And the same joys that come with fostering a single child, such as: seeing them grow in all sorts of ways, building a bond with them, watching them thrive and seeing their accomplishments are multiplied as you experience them with multiple children.
For us the biggest challenge of fostering older children has been that our bio children are much younger, so we have not experienced parenting teens. This has made navigating typical teen issues such as cell phones, screen time, school, independence, work and motivation more challenging as we learn as we go. It is also challenging to parent teens who have grown up with different rules and expectations.
It is a joy being able to talk to teens about what their long term goals are and then having the opportunity to support them in their goals and watching them achieve those goals such as graduating, getting a job, saving for a car, and learning the skills needed to live independently.
There are many misconceptions about foster teens. I think it’s important for people to remember that they are just average teens, making the best of tough situations, who deserve a family and support system.
4. What would you say to parents who are considering foster care/adoption of older children?
If you are considering fostering/adopting an older child we would recommend first and foremost praying for guidance and wisdom. When we were considering fostering teens we attended a matching event to give us an opportunity to interact with older kids awaiting adoption before committing to being open to teens. We also would recommend connecting with other families who foster older youth. And when you’ve considered everything, pray some more. We had concerns about parenting teens since we have not yet experienced that stage with our bios and also that being young for having teens could make things difficult. But in the end our belief that older youth need and deserve the love and support of a family just as much as younger kids helped push us through those concerns.
5. Feel free to provide any additional information about your family you would want others to know.
Here’s some background on placements in our family. Our first placement was a sibling group of 3 who were close in age with our bio kids. Our second placement was a sibling group of 2 who were both younger than our youngest bio kid. Currently we have 3 bio children ages 6, 8, and 9 and two separate placements of 17 year olds.
During classes there are many opportunities to learn new skills, which apply to all family members. Everything that is taught, from discipline to family fun activities, is designed to protect the dignity and autonomy of both parent and child. —Family Life Educator