Elisabeth and Brian began their journey as foster parents with the idea that they only wanted to work with children who are freed for adoption. However, as they participated in Berkshire’s MAPP (Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting) classes, they learned a great deal more about foster care and the need in their community.
“We decided to focus our attention on helping children and families reunite. And, if in the process we met a child who was in need of adoption, we were open to that too” said Elisabeth. “As first time foster parents, we thought we only wanted to work with one child at a time but that changed when we received our first phone call from the Berkshire foster care team.”
Elisabeth and Brian received a call that a 3-year-old little boy and an 18-month little girl were in need of a temporary home while mom receive the support and resources she needed. As first time foster parents, they were shocked as to how much little children need. From daycare arrangements to doctors appointments, diapers, and establishing routines, Elisabeth and Brian had to learn quickly and they did it with the support of Berkshire’s foster care team.
“We found a daycare and a pediatrician. We learned their favorite foods, the toys and hobbies they enjoyed, and felt a sense of gratitude that we were able to help these two children during this time of need for their family.”
Both Elisabeth and Brian thought a lot about what it might feel like to be their mom– to have your children separated from you, even if temporarily, and the pain she must be in. “We decided to create scrapbooks and fill them with photos and messages about the children,” said Brian. “If we were in her shoes, we would want pictures of our children so that is what we decided to do for her.”
As time went by, the children began enjoying visits with their mom more frequently. The children’s mom spoke Spanish and because Elisabeth spoke Spanish, they were able to connect without a translator. “This helped us build a stronger, working relationship,” said Elisabeth. “I was also able to write letters to their mom in Spanish – sharing the routine we had established - what worked and what didn’t, as well as new accomplishments and milestones for the children. Eventually, we were able to meet at the local park and were able to have conversations with mom while the kids played. It was great for the children to see us all working together towards the same goal.”
Elisabeth and Brian’s relationship with the children didn’t end at reunification. The children’s mom has stayed in touch and they have had visits together several times over the months. At their last visit, mom asked if they would be the children’s godparents. Brian and Elisabeth were beyond shocked and honored at the same time. It was an emotional moment and of course they said, yes!
“We accomplished what we set out to do – to help reunite a family. Having the family stay in touch with us is a beautiful blessing we did not expect but are truly grateful for. The saying is that it ‘takes a village’ and we are happy to be a part of their ‘village’ for as long as they would like.”
"People say that they could not do what we are doing because it would be too hard or painful when the children go home. But I would challenge that thinking – we are adults who have support systems and have a better understanding of loss,” says Elisabeth. “These are children who need someone to love them, get attached, and take on the “hard” in order to lessen it for them. The supports you will receive from Berkshire are tremendous and the experience of reunifying children with their family is priceless – it makes all of the difficult feelings of saying goodbye worth it.”
Learn more about how YOU can become a foster parent at berkshirefarm.org/foster