Nick and Kelly Kohler are foster parents with the KidsPeace Foster Care office in Kingston, NY. They are the proud parents of a blended family of seven kids and continue to foster children in need.
For National Foster Care Month we asked Kelly for some advice for families considering foster parenting, based on her family’s experiences:
- “I would consider how much or how little of support you will need/ expect from an agency as a family. What trainings are offered through the agency? I would ask to visit each local agency and meet the staff or attend orientations and ask about the mission, how communication works, what supports are offered and community networks for the foster families.
- How much training is required? The training to be a foster parent is about 10 weeks. Don’t let that scare you. I have heard many people question why they would need this kind of training. My answer is that it will completely help you in your own parenting and relationships, give you a better understanding of the foster care system and adoption process and create a deeper understanding and empathy for children and understanding of trauma.
- What if I am single? Work Full Time? Let me tell you, YOU are enough! If you are single, work full time, rent your home but have an open heart and feel inspired and encouraged, that means you are enough. You can be a very special part of a child’s life. If you are scared or nervous about attachment, nervous if you could do it, but really wish you could, I would encourage you to think about it, pray about it, and try to envision yourself having a child in your life!
- Figure out how to create a Village: Find your people for support. This should probably be your first big thing you do! You need a team of people around you, encouraging you, helping you with positive and sound advice, so on tough days, you aren’t told to just throw the towel in. Someone who can come over and give you a moment to regroup or have a night off, so you can be fresh and inspired to do the very best that you can. Everyone needs community and while some have a naturally supportive family, others might not. Even for us, we had some that did not understand, still do, but have surrounded ourselves with so many people who can stand with us if things get difficult. The child also feels that community support and love. When there is a full circle of support, the child feels so much safer, secure and loved. Recognize and include all of the teachers, counselors, medical professionals, church volunteers, caregivers as a part of our community.”
“KidsPeace really believes in the mission of helping and supporting children and families, and are dedicated to reunification when it’s the safe and appropriate thing to do but also love adoptions and the forever happiness it can bring. There is truly such a thing as KidsPeace Magic, where they work diligently to place children in the RIGHT home and place the right child with the family. A lot of time, effort and energy is spent to make everyone, the child and the foster or forever family, have the very best outcome. One that will last forever, even if they are just in your home for a season.
Sometimes, the BEST thing to do when thinking about something, is just to start walking in that direction and to see what happens!”