First-time single parent makes lasting connections
October 4, 2021
Even when Amanda was young she knew she wanted to adopt children one day. Prior to becoming certified as a foster parent, Amanda volunteered as a mentor with Partners Mentoring Youth. Her experience mentoring two teen girls inspired her to become certified as a foster parent. Amanda is now in the process of adopting two sisters from foster care.
“I wanted the kids that needed me to be in their lives more than three hours a week, especially the older kids who just want somebody to listen to them, so I started getting certified to become a foster parent,” said Amanda who talked about her 14-year-old mentee who had a huge impact on her. “She absolutely changed my life by showing me that one adult can make a huge difference. She's on her way to finishing her GED. She has a job, and she's doing really well. I knew if I could help this kid, I could foster older kids.”
Before becoming certified with Nightlight Christian Adoptions, Amanda, a single first-time parent, did a lot of reading and attended seminars and webinars to learn about how cycles of poverty and generational trauma affect families and how to parent children and youth who have experienced trauma. Amanda also knew she wanted her first experience with foster care to end in adoption.
“As a single mom, I really didn't think I was going to be capable of having kids move into my house, developing this bond, and be able to give them back, which ideally is the goal to have them reunified with their parents. I knew that that would devastate me, and I would have nobody here to grieve with me,” said Amanda. “I have my parents and aunts and uncles all throughout Colorado, but I don't know that my family would necessarily understand that concept of grief as a foster parent. So I wanted to adopt first, and then my plan is to continue being a traditional foster parent.”
In July 2020, Amanda was matched with a sibling set of two sisters who were 12 and 8. Being a first-time single parent during a global pandemic was especially challenging, but Amanda was able to find resources and lean on her agency and others for support.
“My family advocate and my caseworker are just the most phenomenal people and reassure me about the child welfare system because they care so much about the kids and about me and how I'm doing,” said Amanda. “My family has been very supportive, but the biggest support has been my best friend who has her master's in special education. She is an elementary school teacher in New Hampshire. I was calling her every night, she has just been an absolute rock star. I could put my little one in front of the screen, and I would be able to trust that she would stay occupied on the screen long enough for me to actually take a shower.”
Amanda has also found support by connecting with other foster parents who understand the unique challenges that come with being a foster parent through Facebook groups and in-person support through Foster Source’s foster parent connections. Amanda was also connected with a therapist through Foster Source at no cost to her. She also took advantage of other resources through Foster Sources such as training and accessing much-needed items like weighted blankets. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Amanda has found support and has been able to make lasting connections with her “big” and “little” and is looking forward to their upcoming adoption.
Amanda has bonded with the girls over board games, movies, cooking and baking. The girls also enjoy learning to cook and trying new foods. They especially like making deluxe tuna salad sandwiches. Amanda has seen the older sister, who is now 13 and just started the eighth grade, grow in her self-confidence through physical and mental accomplishments. Her younger sister is growing in her ability to read and write, identifying her emotions and doing more things on her own. Over the last year, Amanda has found her foster-to-adopt experience to be incredibly rewarding and the sisters have found a place of belonging.
“Here's this 13-year-old who says, ‘Thank you for taking care of my sister.’ She hugged me on her way out for school just this morning and she said, ‘You're just the best mom that I've ever had in my entire life, and I just love you.’ I just sent them off to school, but I feel like I did something today. I'm providing something that is monumental,” Amanda said. “ I wouldn’t have gotten them if my exact checklist was met, but they are absolutely the kids that belong in my house.”