Brittany and Matt have been foster parents since 2014.
Let’s see what has been working for them so far with four questions.
Tell us a little bit about your family?
Our family is very unique and we love it! We currently have nine children with ages 17, 14, 13, 12, 11, 9, 8, 5, & 3. We have three dogs, two tortoises and several other fun animals. Both my husband and I have supportive, loving families that embrace all of the children in our home as if they were their biological relatives, no matter how long they have been with us.
Our family loves to travel together, taking trips to Florida, Maine, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and many more states. We enjoy caving, hiking, backpacking, fishing, camping, rock climbing, kayaking/canoeing, movies, soccer, softball, gymnastics, bowling, visiting the zoo, museum, and aquarium. We always take all of our children, adoptive or foster, on family vacations and outings as we feel it is important for children to have those experiences and memories.
How did you decide to become a Clermont County foster home?
My husband and I had talked over the course of about two years in regard to wanting to be foster parents. We looked into several organizations and options of how we could best serve the children that needed a safe, loving homes while their biological families needed time to better prepare themselves for parenthood. We bounced back and forth on the idea because we weren’t sure if we could emotionally handle sending a child back home one they had come into our lives.
During this time, we had the pleasure of keeping my niece regularly while her parents were working out some kinks in their life. We took her on lots of exciting adventures and really enjoyed sharing our hearts, home, and journeys with her. We were making our annual trek to visit all of our family for Thanksgiving and the topic somehow came back up. We talked about it for a few minutes and both of us felt a pull telling us it was time to start the process.
Tell us a little bit about your journey with placements.
Placement history with us has been exciting and crazy. When we were licensed, we said that we would work with children ages 0-12 as we were both still fairly young and weren’t sure we were ready to work with teenagers. We received a call for our first placement about a day or two after receiving our license and had to update our age range to accommodate the sibling group.
We were so nervous, full of questions, and thought we were prepared for what was to come. I was sitting in a meeting for work when I got the call about 5 p.m. And I immediately said yes and rushed home to make sure we had everything in place.
We had the pleasure of fostering three sibling girls, ages 14, 8 and 5 whom we would later adopt. A little over a year into that placement, we received a call for an emergency placement of two sibling boys, ages 8 and 7, that was only supposed to be for a few days until another home was found. Our family fell in love with the children and asked to keep them for the duration of their case plan, which was about 15 months. When the boys left it was hard on our family, and to this day we still miss them and speak of them often.
After the adoption of our three girls was completed, we received a call about fostering an out-of-county teenage boy which we accepted. This was a fun, yet somewhat difficult experience as we learned to navigate the ins and outs of another county’s system, policies, and procedures.
Around Thanksgiving of the same year, we received several calls/emails about teenage children needing homes. It was difficult to say ‘No’ at times, but something just didn’t feel right about the situations for our family. We truly enjoy fostering and I always hate to turn down a placement; but on the flipside, sometimes things fall into place and you know it was meant to be.
We received a call the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, on our way to another county for a visit, for an emergency placement of a teenage girl who was with us for about four months before returning home. At this point, we had five children in our home again and we felt complete. Things were going well and our family was efficient and cohesive. Then in February we received a call about an emergency placement of a sibling group of five, ages 13, 11, 8, 5, and 3. We accepted and our ‘normal’ sized family, just became a ‘large’ family. There were a lot of questions regarding logistics, scheduling, bedroom arrangements, school schedules, etc., but we made it work and are thankful we did.
At current time, we have nine children in our home; three who are adopted and six who are foster.
What are your thoughts on keeping sibling groups together?
I will start by saying that every situation is different and needs to be evaluated for the true, best interest of all the children in the sibling group. However, with that said, we are huge advocates of keeping sibling groups together; it has become a passion of our family to work with sibling groups, especially large ones, as we know it can be difficult to find homes available and willing to work with large sibling sets.
We have found that even teenagers (that the thought of fostering used to scare us), are very loving, more emotionally bonded, and more open to receiving love and affection, when they are with their siblings. We have had the pleasure of working with several sibling groups and all of the single children we have worked with were part of a sibling group – they just were not in care at the time for various reasons. I would say that our preference is to foster the larger groups as we now have the ability, resources, and time to do so.