Ten years ago, I was not thinking about becoming a foster parent. I was busy taking care of my family and friends’ children. But then, my daughter became a teenager who no longer needed me in the same way, and my husband got a great job as a musician. I felt like I was by myself, and I was bored. I needed a purpose and asked God for guidance.
A few days later, my friend stopped by and asked me to accompany her to a foster family information meeting at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services. I agreed to keep her company. During the meeting, I learned about the many children in foster care in need of loving homes. I was astounded by the numbers and wanted to help, so I signed up.
In August 2006, I received my license to be a treatment foster care parent. I was excited to be part of a program that gives so much to help children. Little did I know that this would be a joy that would change my life forever!
There are always challenges, but I have support
I began providing temporary respite care, which was a good start for me to get to know the children and their needs. I kept an open-door policy and was available to every child in need of a safe place to sleep. Some days were easier than others. I believe that some of the children were difficult to care for because they were not used to the structure and rules of my home. There are always challenges, but with the great support I received from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services, I was able to continue on.
I realized that to be a good foster parent, you have to show up and be there for children in need. Listen to them and support them no matter what. Don’t give up on them. Being placed in an unfamiliar home away from their family and the life that they knew is a devastating blow to a child. They need time to heal and adjust. Who are we to say how much time that should take? These kids are living a life where all of the decisions are being made for them and about them. They need someone to listen to how they are feeling and what they want in their life.
Just trying to help a child is a success
Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine where I was ten years ago, feeling lonely and bored. When I open my eyes and look at all of the wonderful people surrounding me, I am grateful for each and every one of them — especially my children that I adopted through foster care. Sometimes I think that God put me through so much in life to make me strong so that I could take care of others.
As I sit here, peacefully watching them play with one another, I feel happy and I know that I am blessed to be a part of their lives. I pray that God guides my children to be strong, independent, loving people. Then I pickup my fake soup and plastic corn cob that I have just been served by my junior chefs, and enjoy every fake bite!
– Peggy Sue Caston, adoptive parent and prior treatment foster care parent
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services recruits, trains and provides support services for foster families. The need for foster parents in Wisconsin is great. Contact us to receive information about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, or visit our website to learn more.