"Life as a foster parent is hard, but worth it."
Brown Bag Campaign of CFS features foster parent, Angela Adams. Written by Melissa Ryba
Angela Adams observed her friend, Alana, who provided foster care for children for over 20 years before deciding to make that first call. She thought about it often but still was hesitant. Angela lives in Fife Lake, has adult children and empty bedrooms. Her friend encouraged her to just go to one of the classes to learn more. That is when she realized how many children in our area really needed a safe, nurturing place to stay. Angela says that she likes to think foster care chose her... that she did not choose to become a foster parent.
It’s been four years since she has become licensed, and she describes a journey full of ups and downs. She has had five children placed with her during that time, three of them are currently in a legal guardianship under her care. After they were placed, it was either fate or a coincidence that they discovered the children placed with her were distant relatives. Their mom was having a difficult time, so guardianship seemed to be the best route for the children. Then, about two years ago, a five-year-old boy was placed with her. Now 7, he was recently adopted by Angela and is now in his forever home.
Angela is happy that this adoption occurred, but still stresses that that the goal for the children should always be to be reunified with their parents if possible. “Don’t underestimate the importance of the biological parents,” she states, “try to build the relationship with them, it benefits everyone involved. The primary goal is to send children home if possible, having a good relationship with the parents helps that.”
Angela’s journey is not without some major bumps in the road. A year and a half ago, her husband, Stan, died unexpectedly from a blood clot. With this sudden loss, and four foster children living in the home, CFS offered to find respite for the children while she grieved. Angela states, “The children were grieving as much as I was, so we grieved together. CFS was so supportive during this time.”
She recalls her most challenging but rewarding placement of a young woman that suffered severe trauma. She was very aggressive, and Angela did not feel equipped to handle her behaviors. The young woman went on to several residential placements where she could receive 24/7 care. Throughout this time, Angela remained in contact with her and was there for her as much as she possibly could be. They still maintain a relationship, and she frequently receives visits and calls from her. Angela sees that she has overcome a lot in the past few years and loves to see her significant progress.
Reflecting on what she has learned from her experiences, Angela states, “I have learned a lot about trauma through CFS. I never really thought it before but being a foster parent means parenting children who have experienced a lot of trauma. CFS has educated me on how to parent children with trauma. There are also a lot of resources to help. It still gets hard at times to remember when they are very challenging. I have to tell myself, to ‘take a breath’ and remember that it’s not personal.”
There is time for fun as well though. As a family they enjoy kayaking, going to the beach, rock hunting, having movie nights, and bonfires. For anyone that is considering fostering, Angela gives this advice, “You know, no one expects perfection. Life changes rapidly, you are never fully prepared, but the rewards that you get are worth it. You can make changes with the child as well as the bio parents, they will call me for advice if you can make the connection. It is hard, but the rewards are worth it.”
Angela’s story is part of Child and Family Service’s 32nd annual Brown Bag Campaign. This campaign reminds us of the brown bags many children arrive with when they are first put into foster care. A brown bag (or plastic garbage bag) often contains all their belongings as they head into a new, safer life. Your donation will pay for things like a stuffed animal to hug, counseling, school supplies, winter boots, and opportunities such as music or dance lessons or summer camp. These little brown bags have raised more than $550,000 for children over the past 32 years of the campaign. You can find a bag at Oleson stores throughout northern Michigan, Oryana in Traverse City, or in your local newspaper. Can't find a bag? To donate online or to learn more about the Brown Bag Campaign go to cfsnwmi.org/brown bag.
For more information on becoming a foster or adoptive parent, please call (231) 946-8975 or visit cfsnwmi.org/foster-care.