Core Value: Relationships

This story was first published in the Winter 2011 issue of the Sunshine magazine.

Core Value: Relationships 

Family pictures and scrapbooks of memories line the bookshelves, and art projects and school reports hang proudly on the refrigerator. While this sounds like a typical family home, it also describes an MCH foster home.

Foster parents are special people. They open their hearts and homes to children and want the best for them.

“One of the best things for children is to know and be loved by their parent,” said Melissa Opheim, vice president for community services. “Our foster parents understand the built-in need for a connection to a child’s biological parent.”

Foster parents know the challenges biological parents face and find themselves in a situation to help children by providing a loving home and the reassuring connection to their parents.

“It’s important for foster families to have regular contact with the birth parents to share information, discuss the child’s progress, and celebrate special experiences,” Opheim said.

Opheim said that foster families are creative in exploring ways to nurture the connection between children and their birth parents. Foster families through MCH have regular contact with most birth parents to help keep them informed and involved in the decisions that affect their children. Every effort is made to help birth parents take part in special occasions with their children, including birthdays and other milestones, holidays, and school and church events.

Foster parents often create “life-books” that document special experiences, like a child’s first steps, first loose tooth or first date. One foster mom refers to the life-book as “documentation of the child’s journey at her home until he can go back home to mom.”

Brooke Rasco, a caseworker in Waco, said one of her foster families makes an effort to place photos of all their foster children’s biological parents on the mantel.

“Each night, the foster family gives the children an opportunity to look at their parents’ photo and talk about them,” she said. “This enables the children to have a constant visual of their birth parent.”

Children placed in foster care come from all backgrounds, and the biological parent must work to overcome the issues that led to the child’s placement with MCH. These include joblessness, incarceration, homelessness, court restrictions, active addictions, or safety issues in their current living situation for the children. Sometimes a placement comes from a young parent who needs time to learn parenting skills.

“Many times birth parents feel isolated and angry at the circumstances that brought them to this point in their lives,” Opheim said. “Foster parents can play a role in helping to ease that anger and frustration and speed everyone along to a healthier tomorrow through the care and attention they give to the child and to the child’s connection to loved ones.”

Though each situation is different, there is one constant – relationships are the foundation of any family dynamic. Exemplifying the Home’s core value of relationships, MCH outreach offices and foster families are committed to keeping families connected.

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