All children who enter foster care have a goal of permanency. The nature of foster care is to provide a temporary place for a child to reside, before returning home to their birth family. But what happens, when, in many cases, a child may not be able to return home? If those foster children are lucky, they are residing with foster parents who have made the decision to give that child a “forever home.”
I have served as the home finding super-visor for Astor Services for Children & Families’ Therapeutic Foster Boarding Program in the Hudson Valley and Bronx, New York since 1995. In June of 2017, I became a foster parent and we adopted in 2019. Because I had worked in foster care for so long, I was very aware of the need for foster parents. It is something I had longed to do for many years.
At the time my husband and I became foster parents, we had a 10-year-old son. We talked about what foster care would mean for all of us. As someone who has such extensive experience working in foster care, I knew how essential it would be to have the whole family committed to taking on the task of fostering. Often, without complete family commitment, foster care placements disrupt. With everyone onboard, we decided to open our hearts to a child in need.
Fostering and subsequently adopting has changed our lives. My son had been an only child until the age of 10; having a sibling changed the dynamic of our family. It added another element of adventure, laughter and, most of all, love.
Many people ask me how has COVID changed the way the foster care system operates. The truth is, while we do use video conferencing and will continue to make virtual meetings a possibility for families that are more comfortable with that, we never stopped doing in-person visits and have remained in the community through-out the pandemic, using proper precautions. The pandemic has also underscored how important the foster system is. Many children in the system have already experienced trauma and hardship, leaving them more vulnerable to pandemic-related changes.
Giving any child a “forever home” is such an extraordinary experience. To give a child a second chance at life – one who may no longer be a baby, but still needs a family – is something that should be celebrated!
Angela Trento Somella is home finding supervisor for Astor Services for Children & Families’ Therapeutic Foster Boarding Program. To learn more about Astor Services for Children & Families, visit astorservices.org/.
The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of Northern Dutchess News. To submit a column, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
by Angela Trento Sommella
Article originally appeared in the Dutchess News