Foster Parent Experiences: "I Could Never See Turning a Child Away"
Every foster parent has a story.
We want to know about the inspirations, intuitions, and inklings that lead to them to the fostering community. Lorena is one of KIFS’ loving, committed foster parents whose dedication and constancy has made an enormous impact in the community and the world through her work as a foster parent.
When did you become a foster parent and what were your reasons?
I’ve always wanted to do foster care, it was something that was always in me even when I was very young. My husband and I raised five (biological) children and after my last child left my husband we adopted a sibling group of four, all of those children are now in college and my last one is 15. We are getting ready to adopt two more and our teenage foster children will be transitioning into independent living programs.
Fostering is the most rewarding thing I have ever done to make a child happy, to see a child smile. I could never see turning a child away. I tell my adopted children that they are special because out of all the children in the world we chose you.
Tell us about working with teenage foster children.
I love the teenagers, it’s rewarding to watch a child come into your house that has been abused and has no self-confidence or self worth and to watch them evolve from a broken child into one that is whole and going to college. We get them involved in school activities, build their confidence in getting good grades, and constantly remind them of what they have accomplished.
They’re so funny and have their own personalities, every one of them is different. Because they are older they can come and tell you exactly how they are feeling. You can help them more because they can express their feelings to you.
Every child is different, you have to find what works for each child. You have to get to know your children individually and see what works for them. You have to keep trying, you can’t give up.
How do you help your children navigate in the new digital age? Dealing with online social lives and bullying etc.
Building their self-confidence is the best thing I have found. I remind them that you can’t control what other people do, you have to know in yourself that it is their problem not yours. If you believe it then other people will believe it also. The main thing I focus on is building their self-worth.
I tell them how strong they are and remind them of what they have overcome. I remind them of their milestones. They have been beat down so much, they have no self-worth and the most important thing is to let them know they are somebody, it’s not their fault.
How did your parents raise you?
I was raised in church. My parents were married for over 50 years. they were strict with us but showed us love.
Being raised in church you must have been raised with Bible stories. What is your favorite story from the Bible?
The story of King Solomon and the two mothers.
What would you like people to know about foster care?
I encourage people to do foster care because there are so many kids that need help. If you can change just one life it is worth it. Just to see a child have a little bit of normalcy in their life is completely worth it. They get excited over the smallest stuff that you think nothing of. To let them put up a Christmas tree when they have never had one. What you think is no big deal is a great big deal to them.
What do you like about working with KIFS?
I worked for state of Kentucky for over ten years. The state is very busy. KIFS is only a text or a phone call away. They have never not been there for me. If I have a problem or need anything they are on top of it that same minute.
You have support not only from the KIFS staff but also the other foster parents at the monthly foster parent training meetings. I know I am not the only one parenting a troubled child. I listen and get ideas from them.
I get a lot out of the monthly meetings. The foster parents are able to talk about our struggles. The staff will stop and ask us what our opinions and experiences are with certain topics and that helps a lot. I can listen to the other foster parents and get their opinions and it helps me be a better parent.