I first learned about the Foster Care Project at a Christmas party in 2013 from a friend in our Covenant One class. Since then whether shopping for school clothes for foster children, giving birthday and Christmas gifts, packing sack lunches or flipping pancakes at a breakfast for homeless youth, coordinating volunteers and mentors at a group home — no matter what the project, program, or idea — I have been able to provide the perspective of a former foster youth.
And it has been in and through FCP that I was able to come to terms with my experience in seven different foster homes — finding the resources and support to become a foster parent myself.
When you are a childless couple preparing to adopt through the “Foster — Adopt” program it can be both exciting and scary. And as a former foster child preparing to adopt it is a really big deal. Our foster agency, Five Acres, contacted us and asked if we would consider taking a teenage girl. Lydia was 17 ½ years old when she came to live with us. As you might imagine, inviting someone into your home and lives can be challenging and sometimes frustrating — and our lives have changed since she became part of our family. We were living in La Crescenta while she was still finishing high school and she had a weekend job — both in Pasadena. So our first few months as a family can best be described as the ‘Taxi Service Months.’
One of the most important things we have been able to do for Lydia is provide a safety net. During Lydia’s first visit with us we told her, “Once you’re ours, you’re ours forever.” We specifically clarified that our vision of being her foster parents didn’t end when she turned 18.
After helping her graduate from high school, we assisted her with the college application process and she is enrolled at a local community college. It’s not easy for a teenager to navigate the financial aid system, placement testing, and the admission process. Fronting the money for tuition, fees and books until the financial aid package is finalized is often a huge challenge for transitioning foster youth; we have been able to help her with those things.
Lydia is now 25 and attending college—one class at a time. And we are still her “moms.”