At 23 years old and with a couple years of marriage under our belt, we decided to become foster parents.
The first child placed with us was a 7-year-old boy named Jack* (this is not his real name, to protect his confidentiality). When he was dropped off for the first time, he literally ran into our house. He ran straight towards our dog and gave him a big hug and said,
“I’m going to love it here!”
It was funny and sweet and we were smitten. We were temporarily a family of 3.
The school year came and went and before we knew it he was on summer break. We wanted to make it a summer full of adventures that he’d never forget. We went whitewater rafting, camping, hiking, swimming, and his favorite- to the beach and the aquarium. I’ve never seen a kid light up so much over a starfish! Prior to our trip, we went to the library and checked out every single book about starfish.
The honeymoon phase ended about 3 months into Jack living with us.
We found out we were pregnant around this time, but had no intentions of Jack going anywhere. He was a part of our family until he could be reunited with his.
The following months were a roller coaster. As the next school year started, so did the hardest 3 months of our lives. For about the first month of school, I was called almost every single day to pick him up from school for misbehaving in class. I was taking my PTO days from work to stay home with him during suspensions, and spending many lunch breaks in meetings with teachers.
We didn’t know what to do, but we made a commitment to Jack and he was there to stay. This is exactly what he needed. The stability of our family through that rough time was more than he had ever been given before. We didn’t give up on him and we continued to love him, take him to therapy, and do what we needed to in order for him to succeed.
Around Christmas time, Jack had become so loving and the teachers adored him rather than avoiding him.
Jack’s case moved to therapeutic (meaning that he required a higher level of care than we were equipped to provide) as some disheartening traits were revealed while he lived with us; however we persisted with family therapy consistently.
In February, we said goodbye as Jack went to live in a home with his younger brother and sister. We wept for days after he left as we had been given such a remarkable opportunity to raise him for 1 year.
After fostering Jack and becoming pregnant with our first child, we decided to pursue a lifelong dream of ours…. to “thru-hike” the AT. That’s when we stopped fostering, had our daughter, Ellie, and began training for this new adventure.
We are so thankful that we got to be a part of Jack’s childhood and although fostering was hard, we would never change it. The growth we saw in Jack while he was in our home was beautiful!
– Derrick & Bekah
Check out our blog here: Ellie on the AT (Appalachian Trail)