Throughout the month of May, the Department of Children and Families honors our dedicated Foster families.
Foster families step up and provide love, care, nurturing, and healing to children who cannot remain at home; Foster families make a lasting difference in the lives of children and youth across the Commonwealth. If you have every thought about becoming a Foster Parent please contact the Department of Children and Families. Social Workers from across the Commonwealth are available to answer your questions and to walk you through the process.
Please call us at 1-800-KIDS-508 or visit our website: mass.gov/dcf
Foster Parenting: Creating a safe place to land
The thing about being a parent (of any kind) that has always frightened me is that it is the one job you are guaranteed to mess up. I had a rough go of it as a kid, and in reflection realized how important it was that I had people in my life that allowed me safe places to land in the midst of the chaos. I kept the idea of being a foster parent rolling around in the back of my head, despite my fear, because I wanted to offer the safe space to others that I found so vital. In 2009, I made the leap and started the process to become a foster parent.
I was lucky to have dynamic trainers and an amazing Family Resource worker at the Department of Children and Families. These professionals were well equipped to ease fears and answer all manner of questions, big or small. The day I was licensed was the day my first foster child was placed with me. The time between when I got the call and the child arrived was nerve-racking . And I must admit, those nerves still come back every time I get a new child placed in my home. I wonder, “Am I going to be able to do this? Every child is different, has dealt with different things.”
What I have learned is that those things are true, but there are also other truths. Every child is scared. The life they have known, the security, no matter the circumstances, of knowing who they belong to and how their world works has abruptly disappeared. They are now in a new home, with a new grown-up, new rules, new food, new clothes, new routines… new everything. My first order of business is to make sure a new child in my home feels as safe in this new place as they can. My approach to foster parenting is to embrace each child as though they are my own.
I have fostered children for anywhere between a few days to a few years. It has been an adventure filled with great highs and great lows. No matter how much I tried to prepare myself for when children leave my home, it is tough – tears and heartache tough. But, it is not hopeless and that is a gift!
The foster parent support group and the ongoing trainings provided, create a space to talk about how things are going, good or bad. No story is too crazy, no feeling unreasonable. With the wisdom of other foster parents and the expertise of the trainers I have gotten tools and tricks to maneuver through all the adventures foster parenting brings. At the end of the day, I am able to offer a safe space for children who need it and I am honored to be able to do so.
Rebekah Kahal has been a foster parent since 2009. She fosters children 0 – 6 year old and adopted one of her foster children in October 2013.
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