By Azriel Ganz
“How do you do it? Where do you find the time for extra kids?” “Don’t you get attached to the kids? How do you feel when they leave?” “How do your kids feel? Don’t they resent all the attention you give to the foster kids?”
These are just a few of the questions and comments my wife Sara and I have gotten over the past 14 years, since we were certified by Ohel as foster parents. All of the questions are legitimate. Many of the answers surprise the questioners. Some of the answers may be difficult to understand until you have actually become a foster parent.
Being a foster family is certainly not for everyone, but fostering can be one of the most rewarding experiences a family can undertake. The impact you can have on a child, even one who stays with you for only a short time, can be profound and last a lifetime. Serving as a foster family elevates both you and, especially, your biological children. It is a clichÃ© to state that you get much more than what you give, but, in the case of fostering, it is undoubtedly true.
But, make no mistake: you give a lot. Fostering is time consuming and challenging. Most of the children that enter “the system” are there for a reason. They may have been abused or neglected. They may come from dysfunctional family situations and usually come with some “baggage” of the type you may not be used to dealing with in your own family. But, at bottom, children in the foster care system need what every child needs: stability, structure, safety, kindness, and love. If you are prepared to provide these things, fostering may be something you should consider.
Ohel is currently experiencing a shortage of foster parents. To paraphrase the Marines, Ohel is “looking for a few good families.”
Perhaps the comment we’ve received most often over the years is this: “We’ve thought a lot about fostering but we just don’t know whether it’s for us.” On February 12, Chana and Lazar Calderon will be hosting an evening where, perhaps, you can get the answer to that question. You can learn more about the foster parenting process directly from the Ohel foster care staff and a couple of foster families. This is an opportunity to find out if foster parenting is the right choice for you and your family and to ask any questions you may have.
Please join them at 1120 Waterview Street in Far Rockaway at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 12. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Chaya Surie Malek at email@example.com or just show up. Perhaps you are one of the few good families that Ohel is looking for. v