What led you to want to get involved in fostering?
We wanted to become a foster parent first in hopes of adopting a little girl since we already had two boys and wanted a daughter.
What keeps you fostering?
We love staying involved with foster care for the rewarding feeling and gratitude of knowing we made a difference in a child’s life. We have a love and passion for helping take care of children who have been abused or went through something that might have led them to be placed in a foster home.
Do you have a favorite moment from your experience as a foster parent?
Our favorite moment would be when we adopted our children, over nine years ago!!!
What advice do you have for someone that is considering being a foster parent?
All foster children are not the same or in trouble of some sort. Also, It is definitely fulfilling knowing you can make a difference in a child’s life, even if only for a short time before they return to live with their birth families.
WARNER - DECICCIO
This family has already provided Monroe Harding support for many years! Their support has provided us a chance to provide meaningful experiences to all those we serve from Foster Care, Independent Living and Youth Connections Monroe-Harding Resource Center. Check out their amazing Gratidude Ranch! Thank you for getting even more involved!
Another example of what #family means in foster care:
Two little boys, age 5 and 6, have moved over 10 times in their young lives… Feeling unwanted and unsure of where they would go next, they moved to their new home with a Monroe Harding foster family in February.
After noticing the “wall of love” in the house, one of their first questions to their new foster parents was, “When will we get our names on the wall?”
The letters of the boys’ names were put onto the wall to perfectly fit with the other names of those in the family. Now, every meal eaten at the table is spent looking at all of the names of the beloved family members on the wall nearby.
The boys know that they are now a real part of the family. They have the letters to prove it!
These are the stories that fill our ❤️….
Three-year-old Abigail recently moved into the home of one our foster families. Our wonderful foster parents, Jason and Liz, knew that Abigail was confused, shy and unsure, but were heartened to see how much she enjoyed being with their little girls, all around Abigail’s age. Jason happened to be taking his girls to a father-daughter dance in the community, so he asked if Abigail’s father might be able to attend with them. With that not being possible, Jason gladly brought Abigail along to the dance with his oldest two girls, the day after she moved into their home.
When we visited their home the following week, we asked about the dance. Abigail proudly said she got to dance, wear a pretty dress, eat yummy food and have fun with the family.
Jason, Liz and their family provided Abigail with an experience usually reserved for daddies and daughters who have known each other for longer than a day. And when it was time to take a picture, that hangs proudly in their home, there was no question that Abigail would get to be a part of that experience, too. We are so grateful for all our foster families do to make the children in their care feel loved and welcome!
We celebrate the Gordon family, who became richer in love three times over today. Natalie, Deacon and David (in the front row of the picture by their sister Sadie) were adopted today. The joy in their hearts was evident and it was wonderful to watch the brothers and sisters play together, laugh together and support each other. The Gordons were joined by some very proud grandparents, and many family and friends, all there to share in the beginning of a new chapter for this very special family. To John, Ashley, John Jr., Natalie, Sam, Sadie, Deacon and David – congratulations on this wonderful day, and you will forever be a part of our Monroe Harding family!
Marla and George McKnight welcomed a brother and a sister into their hearts three years ago and today the judge made it official. Kaydee, is 3 years old, beautiful and full of spunk. Her older brother asked if he could change his first name, so we’re proud to congratulate eight-year-old A.J. on his very special day. Everyday, the McKnights show these children – their children – the power of love through nurturing and security in always being there for them. The journey was long, but the family is now whole.
“Everywhere in nature we are taught the lessons of patience and waiting. We want things a long time before we get them, and the fact that we want them are all the more precious when they come.” – Joseph F. Smith-
THE THOMAS FAMILY
- At 9:15 am in the Wilson County Judicial Center, a new family was made official. After more than two years in foster care, these handsome brothers, six year-old Tyler and seven year-old Michael, were adoptedby their foster parents, Cassie and Delena Thomas.
- A courtroom can be an intimidating place even for grownups. But this young man was on a mission, to officially become Patricia’s son.
At 3 years old, even before he was admitted into foster care, Justin had already moved from place to place, never finding a family to call his own. Then Justin moved to his foster mom Patricia’s home. She told him he was smart, taught him how to read, write his name and be proud of who he is. Slowly, as Justin felt safe and loved, he started to smile more and Patricia would always tell him he had a beautiful smile. In a place as serious as a courtroom, five and a half year-old Justin had everyone smiling with him when he was adopted. If you ask Justin what was special about this day, he says now everyone has to call Patricia his mommy, “because she IS my mommy”. So from your Monroe Harding family, we send our love and congratulations to Justin and his mommy, Patricia.
GABRIEL AND ADRIAN
You may recognize this wonderful lady – earlier this year Patricia welcomed Justin into her family. It was almost a year ago when she opened her home and her heart to brothers Gabriel and Adrian. It was hard for the boys to trust at first; Adrian was angry and beginning to think he was a bad boy, that he had done something wrong. Trust can be hard at any age, but Patricia gave him love and encouragement and helped him develop a sense of pride in himself, and as time went on, the emotional walls broke down. She helped him channel his energy into sports and now Adrian plays football, basketball and baseball; he even threw out the first pitch at the Nashville Sounds game just last week. Gabriel has special needs, but that didn’t stop Patricia from seeing how loving he is. She is a fierce advocate for him and she sees that sweet smile of his all the time now. It’s important to Patricia to keep the same people in the children’s lives as much as possible. Throughout the time the boys have been in her home, Patricia has included the birth parents and former foster parents, the Clarks, in their lives. Each foster parent/birth parent relationship is different and many times the birth parents are unable or unwilling to be present at all in their children’s lives. This is different. Although the birth parents were not able to care for Gabrieland Adrian, they still love them. Patricia recognizes and accepts that love, which helps Gabriel and Adrian understand that there’s no limit on the number of people or the amount of love they can have in their lives. We send our love and congratulations to Gabriel and Adrian on their adoption and to Patricia, and brother Justin, on growing their forever family.
ISABELLA AND CHARLIE
This has been an extraordinary year for adoptions among our Monroe Harding families and we’re proud to share the latest with Christina and Logan Douglas.
Last Friday was a sibling “Gotcha Day” for Isabella, 7, and Charlie, who will turn three on Easter. This is the day the children officially became a part of the Douglas They are joining brothers Tristan (big brother to all) and Derek (sitting next to his big brother), who celebrates his own “Gotcha Day” on Halloween ever since he was adopted, and Jesse who will be celebrating his own day in just a few months. All the kids were excited and at school today, Isabella wanted to make sure the teachers knew she was a Douglas. Christina and Logan didn’t really think Charlie understood what was happening at his young age, but just a few days ago, in the car with Christina, he asked her, “I get ‘dopted?” and he’s been practicing saying his name “Charlie Grayson Douglas”.
Families are created in so many ways, and children may come into a family in different years and at different ages, but for Christina and Logan that doesn’t make any difference. “We hurt with them the same way, we love with them the same way, go through trials with them the same way and help them be emotionally strong in the same way.” To this wonderful and growing family, we send our love and congratulations.
KAYDEE AND AJ
Marla and George McKnightwelcomed a brother and a sister into their hearts three years ago and today the judge made it official. Kaydee, is 3 years old, beautiful and full of spunk. Her older brother asked if he could change his first name, so we’re proud to congratulate eight-year-old A.J. on his very special day. Everyday, the McKnights show these children – their children – the power of love through nurturing and security in always being there for them. The journey was long, but the family is now whole.
FOSTER CARE HELPS
The recent story of two foster children suffering at the hands of a foster parent is heart wrenching and sad on many levels. For all of us, youth symbolizes unlimited potential. And so to see a young person deprived of the opportunities of a life our culture and our country naturally should afford is a tragedy and shame we are all drawn to correct. As a staff member at an agency that provides foster care services, be assured that stories like that in yesterday’s paper are rare; the foster parents I have encountered are loving, caring, supportive and would never endanger any child.
In Tennessee alone, we have over 7,500 children in state custody and another 15,500 who are at risk of coming into custody. Research shows that children in the foster care system across the US suffer from PTSD at a rate higher than our veterans. And every year as youth age out of the system they are faced with the challenge of becoming self-sufficient virtually on their own. Those who age out without family face homelessness, incarceration, school dropout, unemployment, unwanted pregnancy and lack of health care.
These outcomes are preventable! The TN Department of Children’s Services and agencies across the state work diligently every day to ensure safe permanent homes for our most vulnerable children and youth. Monroe Harding, Inc. and other local agencies recruit and train foster families, provide group homes and transitional housing, and have community based resource centers offering education advancement, job skills, internships, and financial literacy.
It really does take a village to raise a child and we CAN give these young people a chance for a better life. Organizations dedicated to helping children and youth in State’s custody need volunteer mentors, tutors, foster families, gift cards for the children’s needs, and donations. Help us declare Every Youth: A Chance for a Better Life!
Mary N. Baker President & CEO Monroe Harding, Inc
As published in the Tennessean, December 2011.