Nicole Voitle, a speech therapist, had never considered becoming a foster parent. It wasn’t until she worked in the home of a foster family that she became interested in becoming a foster parent herself. “I was so impressed with the family,” she said. When she brought the idea to her husband, David, he was concerned about the challenges that come with fostering. But eventually, they decided to give it a try.
When she was six years old, the Voitles’ daughter, Avery, who was adopted through the Homes of St. Mark (which later merged with Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services), told her parents that she desperately wanted a little brother or sister. She asked her parents nearly every day if they had gotten a call about a new adoptive sibling, and finally the call came.
The Voitles first met their soon-to-be adopted daughter in a hospital. Six-week-old Samantha was hospitalized due to starvation and broken bones. Despite the neglect and abuse Samantha had suffered at the hands of her biological parents, she looked up and smiled at the Voitles when she met them. “I know it sounds cheesy,” said Nicole, “but we knew the moment we laid eyes on her in that hospital bed that she was meant to be our child and we would adopt her if we could.”
The Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services (PCHAS) caseworkers who worked with the Voitles were essential to making the transition as smooth as possible. “I’m a working mom and they really worked hard with me to fit visits around my schedule,” said Nicole. Nicole also credits PCHAS with helping her and David foster a close relationship between her daughters, who are eight years apart. “We are so thankful for PCHAS!” she says.
People tell the Voitles all the time that they are too scared or nervous to foster, which the Voitles understand. Fostering may be scary, they say, but with well-trained, experienced and supportive caseworkers like PCHAS’, it is manageable – but so worth it. They advise those who have reservations about fostering to talk to someone: a caseworker, an agency, a friend. To those who want to adopt through the foster care system, they advise: “the child that is meant for you is out there waiting for you,” said Nicole, “but you won’t know it until you try the foster-to-adopt program.”
Today, 2 ½-year-old Samantha is thriving, thanks to her parents who decided to give fostering-to-adopt a chance.