San Rafael, CA – A local adoptive parent named Susan said she was really nervous about becoming a single mother through foster care.
“I eased into motherhood by offering respite for other foster and adoptive parents,” she said. “This allowed them to get a break and for me to try on being a parent for a few days each week with lots of different children.”
November is National Adoption Month, and the Marin County Recruitment Collaborative is raising awareness about the needs of youths in foster care who are waiting for a “forever family.” An orientation class is set for November 17 in San Rafael, hosted and orchestrated with help from the Children and Family Services Division of Marin County Health and Human Services (HHS).
Every year, more than 100,000 youths in the U.S. foster care system seek permanent families. There are 82 children in Marin foster care now. Having permanent family connections is critical for older youths to have legal and emotional support as they transition into adulthood and strive for achievement, growth, and well-being.
This year, specific attention is being paid to the needs of the thousands of kids aged 15-18 who face the challenges of aging out of foster care and beginning their independent, young adult lives. Marin has 26 teens in that category.
Susan said so much of what she learned in her foster parent classes came to light during weekend stays. The people involved with Marin County Foster Care Association were “such an amazing resource” for her and matched her with parents needing respite help.
“Babies were detoxing, younger kids wanted love and attention, and teens tested the limits,” Susan recalled. “The people in the association also shed light on the practical side of foster care – from how the timelines work to how to care for a newborn.
In 2012, one baby girl was likely not going to reunify with her parents and a relative in another state was reluctant to step forward.
“This little girl became my daughter,” Susan said. “The process was nerve-racking, but it was well worth being patient and honoring the system.”
If Marin adults are unable to provide a permanent home for a foster child but are willing to help, the Marin County Recruitment Collaborative has a need for families that can provide temporary homes while biological families work toward reunification.
Lesia, another foster parent for teens, said each teenager that has come through her doors has been full of potential.
“They have their challenges, yes, but majority of the time they are in the system due to no fault of their own,” she said. “We look at them for who they can be, not their current, stressful, fearful, anxious selves. They want a fresh start and an opportunity. They are excited to have a fresh perspective on life and to learn new things.”
Every effort is made to keep foster children in their own community, to keep siblings together, and to create good matches between kids and families. In order to do that, we need a larger, more diverse pool of foster homes.
Marin County Children and Family Services offers monthly orientations for anyone who would like more information about foster care. The next orientation will take place November 17 at the Marin Health and Wellness Campus, 3250 Kerner Blvd., Room 107, San Rafael. A social worker and an experienced foster parent facilitate the meetings and discuss the application process, the training and support available.
The Marin County Recruitment Collaborative is comprised of Aldea Children and Family Services, Alternative Family Services, Marin County Children and Family Services, Marin Foster Care Association, Seneca and TLC Child and Family Services.