Doing Our Best ~ A Mantra for Fostering Teens
May 6, 2020
Fostering a teen can be a challenge, but it’s also, one of the most rewarding vocations you can ever get into. It’s very rewarding for us to work with a teen and see them flourish from getting the love, understanding and dignity you can provide. To watch them feeling safe in a place they can now call “home” brings a certain feeling that you’ve made it to the first milestone. From there, things get easier and better!
During our 32 years of being foster parents, we’ve adopted a mindset of: “We’ll Do Our Best”.
- We’ll do our best to help each teen through the difficult times at school, at home, in the community, or with their biological families
- We’ll help them feel safe, be there for them through the ups and downs of life
- We’ll do our best to remain strong when it’s time to say “goodbye”. Time goes fast!
Everyone has difficult days, and we’d be lying if we told you differently. That’s the time to use your support system. Rely on your friends, family, other foster families, your social workers, counselors, etc. They all can help you stay strong. Listen to their advice and apply it where needed.
Being foster parents certainly added fun and excitement to our lives. It was fun watching a teen thrive and develop into a totally awesome “adult”, ready to face the world being the Best Person They Can Be. What a wonderful head rush! After so many years, we still get a thrill being able to participate in this process.
Billy came to our home from the streets of Chicago. His grandmother, Chloe, lived in Kenosha WI, owning her home, working in the church office, and being active in the community. So, Billy and his mother would move in and out of Grandma’s house as need dictated. Chloe, in her effort to get her daughter right with the Lord, finally issued an ultimatum: “change your life or get out of mine.” The daughter left, leaving Billy behind. She assured her mother that she would never, again, be using the revolving door. After that, Billy found his way to our home.
At the time, we had also had two teen boys in our home. They were looking forward to having Billy join our family. Billy arrived with his grandmother, Chloe. We chatted, met the “family”, and had coffee with Chloe. There were many more to follow over the next two years.
Chloe was a little worried that Billy wouldn’t fit in at school because “he’s black”. We weren’t sure what to think about that, and we assured her Sheboygan was a diverse community and we all blend well together. We took them on a tour of Sheboygan, the high school, the neighborhood and some of the homes that my son’s friends lived to help them get acquainted. It was all good. Chloe loved us, was happy Billy had a good home to go and she drove back to Kenosha with Sheboygan bakery, my phone number and a hug!
All the boys got along well. Billy settled in and things hummed along like a finely tuned machine. It was the beginning of summer. We had a new park model trailer at the Plymouth Rock Campground. We did a lot of camping, swimming, hiking, volleyball, baseball, campfires, golf-cart rides, and meeting more kids and people. We all had a super summer, and Billy had the time of his life.
After the perfect summer, Billy plunged himself into academics, getting A’s and B’s on his report cards and making us and his grandmother so proud. He had a natural intelligence and curiosity that was so impressive.
Billy has a special place in our hearts forever. It was so rewarding to see him thrive and soar, being the Best He Could Be!
Our advice to anyone considering the idea of fostering is to team up with a teen, no matter what your age! If you can be non-judgmental, live, laugh, love, and Do Your Best, there is little to lose, and so very much to gain.
Go ahead, discover the benefits of fostering a teen. You can create these memorable experiences like us.
Written by Bob & Patti Durfee, Long-Term Foster Parents with Foundations