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 one of our resource families.
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.
When I started this class I thought I knew everything a “Good Parent” should know. But I came to realize I had a lot to learn! I’m very thankful to be in this class. –Family Nurturing participant