May 12, 2017
Not so fast.
Meet Kayla and Mike.
Kayla and Mike had been married just a few months when Kayla proposed the idea of becoming foster parents. “I wanted to jump right in,” said Kayla. “Mike was open, but he wanted me to do some research and go from there.”
She searched “good foster care agencies near us,” and together they weighed the pros and cons of working with an agency versus a county office. They wanted the resources and support an agency could provide, so they made the call and scheduled their first training. They were quick to get their physicals done and were approved within three months.
Ready to take the first step? Click here to learn more about becoming a foster parent.
Be on the same page
At 23 and 24, they were initially guarded about telling their friends and family. No one in their circle of friends had fostered before, and Kayla and Mike thought their intentions might be misunderstood. Once they’d made up their mind to become foster parents, they thought others would try to talk them out of it because of their age and because they’d never parented before.
“Our families were a little shocked when we told them,” said Kayla. “Foster care wasn’t something they thought we’d do, especially since we’d never parented. They cautioned us, saying it would be a lot of responsibility. But once they saw the sweet kids who came into our care from hard situations, they began to understand and became supportive. They’d offer to pick up needed items at the store or babysit for us.”
They were both nervous at first, but excited. They committed to be on the same page as foster parents, and they talked about how they would parent children who weren’t even in their home yet.
Stay flexible and open
“We had the normal fears of having a child ‘on the way,’” said Mike, “but most people have nine months to prepare. We had two days when the first call came. The experience stretched me—I went from living by myself for almost four years to being married and parenting a child.”
Four years later, Kayla and Mike have cared for more than 30 children through foster care, emergency foster care, and respite. They adopted their daughter, Izzie, through foster care when she was six months old.
Like all parents, Kayla and Mike are learning as they go, and they have figured out that they need to adjust their parenting style for each new child in their care. For example, the firm boundaries they set for their now 3-year-old daughter aren’t always what an older child needs. They’ve found their best approach is to stay flexible and stay open to learning new things.
Help kids heal
One of the most meaningful things Kayla has learned through this experience has strengthened her relationship with her husband. “I hadn’t realize how foster parenting can test a marriage,” she said. “The main thing I have learned is how strong Mike is. He has been my rock, keeping me calm and keeping things together.”
Kayla and Mike encourage other young couples to consider foster parenting. “These kids come with the clothes on their backs,” said Kayla. “We have the space in our home, and we have the love to give. So we do our best to make sure they have fresh, clean clothes and other items they need to go to school and pursue things they like to do. Foster parenting is about helping kids heal and showing them what a family can be.”
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- How Do I Get Started? Q&A for first-time foster parents