Be Foster Proud
Meet Foster Parents Ann and Jordan
First-time foster parents Ann and Jordan found baby Daniel in a dimly lit room at the hospital. He was sleeping in a baby chair on the floor. The gentle swaying and soft hum of the battery-powered chair was designed to mimic the movements and sounds of a caregiver. His young birth mother, desperate to feed her heroin addiction, left him in the hospital alone shortly after his birth. The nurses knew that this fragile baby was in tremendous pain and discomfort from his prenatal exposure to addictive drugs and they tried to hold him as often as they could. But, the busy hospital staff had little time to rock and comfort the child. He spent most of his vital first weeks alone until a Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services (PCHAS) case manager contacted Ann and Jordan.
The PCHAS case manager had explained Daniel’s situation over the phone. This tiny infant’s survival was a miracle, Ann and Jordan learned. Daniel had defied the odds by surviving his first month, but he needed loving attention as he was weaned off the drugs in his system. He needed nurture and affection to ensure that he would be able to bond with others. Young children who do not receive consistent comfort and care are at high risk for becoming socially-withdrawn and often struggle with forming stable, healthy relationships. Prepared by their case manager, they entered the hospital room quietly, knelt beside the sleeping infant, held his tiny hands and prayed. Ann and Jordan prayed for this vulnerable newborn, for his troubled mother and for God’s strength and guidance in caring for a delicate child.
When Jordan and Ann look back to that evening in the hospital, they marvel at how Daniel has flourished in the last six months. Daniel responded to his parents with a smile even in his toughest moments; but now his exuberant laughter fills their home. He loves to play peek-a-boo, cuddle with the family dog and visit with his foster grandparents, Nena and Poppy. This child, once so fragile, has exceeded all expectations by sitting, crawling, uttering his first words and reaching other developmental milestones ahead of schedule. Ann and Jordan credit a skilled and devoted PCHAS staff with preparing them for and sustaining them in parenting.
PCHAS began supporting these first-time foster parents before Daniel was born. Ann and Jordan attended special classes for foster parents, in which they learned effective methods for helping children heal from neglect and abuse. PCHAS also surrounded the foster parents with a community of care, including a support group of foster parents and a faithful case manager. By the time Daniel was born and they were called to become his foster parents, their case manager knew the couple well. She approached them to parent this child and assured them that she would be with them every step of this journey of love.
Arms filled with diapers and baby supplies, their PCHAS case manager helped Ann and Jordan settle Daniel into the family home. She arranged to visit them every few days and welcomed them to call her anytime day or night. In their regular visits, the case manager discussed the state of Daniel’s health and also made sure that Ann and Jordan were well nurtured. On those occasions when the young couple did reach out by phone with questions or concerns, their case manager was always responsive, kind and helpful. And, most comforting for Ann and Jordan, she told them that she was praying for them and for young Daniel.
Fortified by the support of PCHAS staff, Ann and Jordan are committed to adopting Daniel if his birth mother is not able to recover from addiction. These young parents are also preparing to welcome another foster child into their family. Ann and Jordan are well aware that other foster parents are needed. The number of children in foster care statewide exceeds the number of available foster homes by three to one. This means that many children will not receive the care they need to thrive. Even when families make the commitment to foster a child, they are not likely to continue fostering unless they are enfolded in a community of care.
Rather than accept praise or expressions of appreciation for loving Daniel, Ann and Jordan speak of the joy that he brings to their lives, of their trust in God’s embracing love for Daniel and of their appreciation for those at PCHAS who have cared for them as a family. They firmly believe that the PCHAS model of fostering, with its emphasis on supportive relationships between case managers and foster parents, can help ensure that more children in desperate and lonely situations receive the care they need and deserve.
Daniel’s story reminds us that far many babies are neglected and alone. Daniel’s path from abandoned, ailing infant to an exuberant, beloved son also reminds us of the transformative power of a parent’s tender care. Please consider extending compassion and hope to a child in need. Your decision to proudly foster will connect more children like Daniel with loving families.
Be Foster Proud!
By Molly Jensen