Today’s interview is with Christy Harvey who shares her journey as a foster parent. If you have ever wondered about wanting to foster a child, this quick read is a great way to hear one mom’s perspective.
When did you and your husband decide you wanted to be foster parents? Did you have children of your own at the time?
– We discussed fostering for several years and we knew it was something we wanted to do. However, we had 3 biological kids living in a small two-bedroom townhome so it was not feasible. Then we moved to a bigger house and my husband started law school. Once he finished his first semester, we signed up for foster training. When we decided to become foster parents, we had three biological children.
What was your motivation to share your heart and your home with these precious children?
– My husband is the oldest of six kids; three of the siblings were adopted (one was also fostered prior to adoption). We knew that there was a need for families to love these children. We saw the way adoption/fostering could change the lives of children so we wanted to be a part of that process.
How many children have you fostered?
– We have fostered three children. All three are still with us; two as foster children.
What was your most rewarding experiencing being a foster parent?
– There is a satisfaction in knowing you have done something to change the course of another person’s life. Many of these children are born into a set of circumstances that tend to perpetuate the same cycle of life that leads to more children being taken into the system. Often, they don’t have families who are fighting for them. They don’t get to experience the kind of sacrificial love of parents, but we get the opportunity to show them they are valuable, they are loved, and that they matter to us.
If there aren’t people willing to step in and work to break the cycle, then many of these kids will end up stuck in the same circumstances as their parents. Although we may not have these children in our house forever, the kids will be better off because we will love them fiercely for as long as we can.
Have you formally adopted any of your foster children?
– Zailey Kate Harvey came to us when she was four-days old. We fostered her for 1068 days until we became her forever family when she was officially adopted on April 26, 2019.
For those interested in becoming foster parents in Hillsborough, what is the process?
– You first need to contact a licensing agency who will handle the scheduling of your initial training, background checks, and home study. Once you are cleared and licensed, you will start to receive calls about your first potential placement. Eckerd.org is a great place to find orientation times to start you on your journey.
What advice would you give to new foster parents just starting out for the first time?
– Expect that your experience will be unique and challenging. You will have to be ready to be disappointed by the way some of the system is handled. It can become quite challenging to balance all the different players and the (sometimes conflicting) goals of the system. However, the point of becoming a foster parent is to help children and they need you to advocate for them without fear. The child is what matters, so continue pressing on through the frustrations knowing you are fighting for this child when many other people refuse to.
What would you have done differently in the beginning now that you have the benefit of experience to look back on?
– The foster parents are in the best position to know what is going on with the children but often the foster parents are overlooked when decisions are being made about the children. We would have been more assertive in advocating for the children early on.
What resources have helped you the most?
– People. It is very important to find people that are walking the same path as you. Many people will not, and cannot, understand what you are going through. It is extremely helpful if you can find people to support you and talk about what you are going through.
Are there any websites to help prospective foster parents decide if being a foster parent is something they want to do?
– Eckerd.org is a great resource to review for basic information. It would be even better to speak to foster parents about their experiences.
Any final thoughts you would like to share?
– Most people think they couldn’t handle being a foster parent because saying goodbye would cause them too much pain. But these are exactly the type of people these children need as foster parents. They need foster parents who are going to love them so much that it hurts if they leave. Feeling that way doesn’t disqualify you. If anything, it shows you are more qualified than you know. These kids need people like you who are willing to love them so much that it hurts. Most of these kids have never experienced a self-sacrificial love like that.
Thank you for your interest in reading about Christy’s journey. Have you fostered a child? Share your story in the comments? Would you like to foster and have more questions? Contact www.eckerd.org for more information.