Patrick and Melody were inspired to foster-adopt as they struggled with being able to have their own children.  The couple spent years going to doctors’ appointments and could have stopped there, but as a teacher, Melody loved helping children.  “I love seeing their eyes light up when they have their aha moments,” says Melody.  However, she felt something lacking as a teacher and knew that becoming a resource parent was another way to help other children.  So, they chose to go through the foster-to- adopt route to not only help other children but to find their forever family.  They found that family with siblings Esperanza and Elizabeth.  Here is their journey.

How did you find Children’s Bureau?

We found Children’s Bureau through an internet search.  We had sent inquiries to two other agencies, however, when following up about the process, they never called us back or they told us our application was “lost”. Thus, we decided to give it a third try with Children’s Bureau but would stop trying if we didn’t get a response.  That didn’t happen and we couldn’t be happier with the professionalism of everyone at Children’s Bureau.

Tell us about your girls.

We first met Esperanza at age 11 and Elizabeth was three.  The girls are siblings who were separated from their mother two and half years prior.  They came from a home of multiple challenges including drugs, alcohol and violence.  The girls were initially placed in different foster homes for a year but Esperanza strongly advocated for her sister to be with her.  Esperanza’s foster parent at that time agreed to take her sister as well and they’ve been together ever since.

Esperanza is a fighter with a strong moral compass.  She stands up for those kids who have been teased or have special needs.  She loves to dance, play the piano, and is working toward her black belt in martial arts.  She’s learned how to manage her temper in healthy ways and how to engage in school, earning honor roll status and consistently keeping her GPA high.  Esperanza’s goal in life is to become a children’s attorney.

Elizabeth is a sweet, feisty little girl who loves everyone she meets.  She too is advancing in martial arts and is the highest rank for her age group.  She loves dancing, gymnastics, swimming, and playing with her unicorns, mermaids and dolls.  She loves reading and is entering kindergarten already able to read simple books.  Elizabeth didn’t talk much when she first joined our family but over time has learned to trust us and has become more independent.  She loves to talk and share creative stories.

Tell us about your experience with Children’s Bureau.

My husband and I have had amazing interactions with each person at Children’s Bureau.  When we went to the information meeting it was nicely explained.  I enjoyed having a current foster parent there to give her experiences.  The training was taught effectively to adult learners.  We were respected and invited to ask questions, which we had a million of them after being matched with our daughters.  Our matching specialists were great.  As we had to go through the court system, the Children’s Bureau social workers explained the process and supported us when we hit some road blocks.  We have appreciated the visits and support not only to us as the foster/adopting parents but, to our daughters as well.  After all, the girls were making a huge choice to be with us as their adoptive parents.

What was the process of becoming a foster parent and how long did it take?

At first it felt like it was taking a long time as we went through the process.  However, the reality is that it did not take long at all.  Time is needed to be trained and to match with the child or children with your family.  I enjoyed the three-day training at the beginning of the process.  I also liked the continued training needed as time went on.  The care that goes on behind the scenes to make sure the match is right is amazing.  There are so many moving pieces to becoming a foster parent.  It took about six months from the initial training to the time we were matched up with our girls.

What challenges have you faced as foster parents and what have you learned?

I have learned that paperwork is essential and that therapy visits are also needed.  The biggest challenge we faced was the time commitment.  We didn’t know exactly how it would work with our busy schedules.  I had to give up some extra work duties that I thought I was going to miss.  It turned out for the best as my extra duties were my girls and I loved those duties more.

What advice would you give other parents who are considering becoming resource parents to foster or foster-adopt children?

It is worth the time and commitment!  When you are doing something as wonderful as helping children the stress is real but, worth the time you give these children.  They need the love and sometimes you are the only hope they have.