Con­sider fos­ter­ing to help a lo­cal child

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

My family is big: I have seven aunts, nine un­cles and 20-plus cousins. I have my niece and nephew that I adore and an­other on the way; ex­pe­ri­ence with babysit­ting; I have vol­un­teered at an el­e­men­tary school, wrote a chil­dren’s book; and even worked at a park that had school groups visit.

I’ve been around kids my whole life and al­ways knew I wanted to be a mom. I am mar­ried and did the col­lege thing, so it’s time for a family of my own, right? Any­way, with­out go­ing into too much de­tail, I strug­gle with in­fer­til­ity. My hus­band and I looked at all of our op­tions, and de­cided to go with Charles County Depart­ment of So­cial Ser­vices (DSS) so we could fos­ter a child or two.

I wanted to be able to pro­vide a safe, lov­ing and sta­ble en­vi­ron­ment for a child that needed our help. The staff at DSS has been very nice and sup­port­ive since day one. We took the P.R.I.D.E. train­ing, which met once a week for about two months. I re­ally en­joyed it and learned a lot from “what is fos­ter­ing” to drugs and emo­tional challenges. Be­fore I knew it, we were fill­ing out a packet of pa­per­work which in­cluded fin­ger­print­ing, no­ta­riza­tion, driv­ing records, med­i­cal ex­ams, ref­er­ences, child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences and more.

Once all that pa­per­work was com­pleted and turned in, the fire mar­shal vis­ited our home. Then county san­i­ta­tion also vis­ited. Safety is im­por­tant, es­pe­cially for place­ment of a child, so you can never be too thor­ough. The whole process took a few months, but our home study was fi­nally done. Our case worker was very help­ful dur­ing all of this and put many hours into our case. Any­one with ex­tra room in their home and hearts should con­sider fos­ter­ing; there are so many kids that need it.

The ex­ten­sive process is worth the time be­cause just days later, by sheer luck, we had a child join our home. We ad­justed rather quickly. We have reg­u­lar vis­i­ta­tions with the birth par­ents and as fos­ter par­ents, go to doc­tors’ ap­point­ments and keep up with court dates while we wait. What­ever the out­come, it’s very re­ward­ing to know we have been keep­ing one child safe. I take a pic­ture daily, and th­ese pic­tures are printed and put in a photo al­bum with the date. I plan to write a poem that goes with it as well. Putting to­gether the al­bum, see­ing all the smiles and shop­ping for var­i­ous things has been one of my fa­vorite part of fos­ter­ing so far.

In­di­vid­u­als in­ter­ested in be­com­ing fos­ter par­ents in Charles County can con­tact Claudelle Clarke-Parch­ment at 301-392-6727 or cclarke@ mary­land.gov at the Charles County Depart­ment of So­cial Ser­vices. Amanda Mosely via Charles County Depart­ment of So­cial Ser­vices, La Plata

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