Fostering Part 3: Giant Leaps vs. Baby Steps

NOTE: Links to articles in this series: Fostering Part 1 | Fostering Part 2 | Fostering Part 3

By Dena Pepple, R.N. for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group.

The journey of fostering and adoption that Dr. Dyson and her husband are on is admirable. The process, while time consuming, stressful and emotional, was also a joy filled life changing event for them and their beautiful children. I am so impressed by their openness to share their home, life and most of all love.

Their journey has inspired me to learn more about foster care.

Fostering Part 3There are approximately 440,000 foster youth nationwide with over 13,000 children in Missouri foster care. The average age of foster children is 6 ½ years and the average stay in the foster care system is 20 months.  The good news is that over 50% of foster children are reunited with their family.  Unfortunately, that leaves many children in permanent foster care or waiting to be adopted.

We may not be able to follow in Dr. Dyson’s footsteps, but surely there is something we can do. With one phone call and a thing called “Google” I found there is something every single one of us can do.

First and foremost be kind to ALL children.

Show an interest. Smile at them at the grocery store or McDonald’s drive through. Comment or praise them if you see them do something good. Treat ALL children with respect and true concern for their well being. These tiny actions may be the only positive interactions this child has.

Working as a nurse in a pediatric office, I talk to a lot of foster parents. I try to always thank them for doing foster care. As Dr. Dyson wrote in Fostering Part 1, it is time consuming becoming a foster parent and a lot of work being a foster parent as well. We can be kind and show appreciation to the foster parent also.

There are numerous organizations that assist foster care.

FosterAdoptConnect, Cornerstones of Care, and Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Agency are just a few of the groups that work to improve the lives of foster children. We can assist them by donating money, time, or goods (suitcases, clothes, toys, school supplies, etc.) We can host a fundraiser: instead of having a birthday party do a diaper drive.

If you have a special skill, offer your services. You could mentor through Big Brothers/Big Sisters, coach a sports team, offer free haircuts or photography, bake birthday cakes, or teach music lessons. The options are endless with a little creativity!

Foster parents are always needed. If you aren’t ready for that, respite care is another option. Respite care allows you to give a foster parent a break (a few hours to a few days) for appointments, emergencies, or just a good night’s sleep. The organizations listed above can answer your questions about doing foster or respite care.

Lastly, you can adopt a child in waiting.

At any given time, there are over 2,000 children here in Missouri waiting for their adoptive family. Dr. Dyson and her husband did just this. They took a giant leap and created an awesome new family. I am amazed by Dr. Dyson’s journey and proud to be her friend and coworker.

Whether it’s a giant leap or baby steps, there is something each of us can do. I may not be able to travel Dr. Dyson’s exact course, but I CAN and WILL do something to help these foster children and their families. You can too!

John F. Kennedy said, “Children are the world’s most valuable resource, and its best hope for the future.” I wholeheartedly agree. I encourage all of us to use our resources (however big or small) to show every child that they’re important and priceless!

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