Building Your Foster Care Team
By Jennifer and Kurt Walker
We became foster parents about 15 years ago. We’re both registered nurses and worked at a hospital. Several times a year, we’d have kids in the hospital born addicted to drugs and they didn't have a safe home to go to. We felt like that was something that we could help with.
We've come a long way since those first days of fostering. We have cared for a lot of infants who were born exposed to or addicted to drugs, but since then we have become a kind of medical home for kids with developmental and physical challenges.
When people ask us how we do this work, we always tell them that it takes a team.
We’ve created a team of people within our own family, but it also takes a lot of team work and support outside of the family because some of the kids that come into our home require an incredibly high level of care. Providers at Children's Hospital, pediatricians, therapists in our home, and nurses who attend school with our kids – they are all very important members of our team.
And so is the child’s biological family. They aren’t extended family for us – we’re one large family caring for this child. A lot of kids with higher medical needs come into the system due to abuse or neglect, but sometimes it’s a mismatch between the kid’s needs and the family’s abilities. They have done everything they can and implemented every support known, but sometimes the level of care these kids need is more than the biological family has resources to give.
It doesn’t matter how the people on your team came into your life. Find people who are walking the journey with you —whether it be faith based, whether it be other families, or whether it be just a good friend who understands and listens. Sometimes they are not living the same journey you are, but they are there is be supportive and non-judgmental. If they are walking the journey with you, either alongside you or a little ahead of you a little behind you, those are really important relationships because fostering and adopting children with special needs brings its own set of unique challenges that sometimes can feel overwhelming.