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Trail moms exemplify value of Foster Family Month in B.C.

Contributor
By Contributor
October 9th, 2015

“I love you and I don’t know where I’d be without you.”

Jodi recently heard these words from one of her teenaged foster children. The quiet sentiment offered positive validation of the love and care Jodi and her family have provided to vulnerable youth in the Trail area for the past decade.

Prior to becoming a foster parent, Jodi earned degrees in psychology and social work and became a social worker specializing in child protection. However, she never could have predicted the most rewarding role of her life would be as a mom.

“Fostering has allowed me to become a better and more present mom to everyone in our home – it’s amazing, rewarding work and I love it,” she said. “If you enter into this role with your eyes wide open and are willing to learn and adapt, it could be one of the best things you ever do. You really can make a difference in a kid’s life.”

Jodi says fostering has also made an incredible impact on her two biological children, particularly in the way they view others.

“As I became a stronger foster parent, my kids gained those skills, too,” she explained. “They learned how to communicate effectively and work with other personalities. They also realized that life doesn’t come to everyone on a silver platter and other people struggle. Fostering has taught them how to be more compassionate.”

As the Ministry of Children and Family Development Community Support Network (CSN) Lead for her region, Jodi regularly mentors other local foster families within the CSN. While Jodi’s family chooses to foster teens, she marvels at fellow long-time foster parent and CSN member Bev Gilbert, known in the Trail area as “the baby lady.” Over the years, the former nurse has fostered countless substance-exposed infants, helping to transition the majority of them into adoptive homes.

“The second a baby is placed in my care, I want that baby to have parents. That’s how I can be okay with saying goodbye,” Bev said. “When I foster an infant, I allow it to bond to me fully. Then, when it’s time for the child to join their new family, they go happily because they trust me to make their best decisions.”

Bev said there are many misconceptions about infants born addicted to substances. As a foster mom, she has received extensive training and developed a variety of processes and techniques aimed at successfully feeding, stimulating and soothing the babies.

“These children can be helped so much during the short period I have them, and by the time they are about 10 months old they tend to become typical toddlers,” she explained. “I truly admire them – they started out facing a great deal of adversity, but they are such resilient little people.”

Six years ago, Bev and her family adopted one of the babies they had originally fostered. Today, her daughter is a constant reminder of why Bev loves fostering infants.

“My reward is seeing a great little kid who is being welcomed by a loving new family and knowing I helped that great little kid get to that place in their life,” she says. “It’s wonderful when a child can become his or her very best.”

October is Foster Family Month in British Columbia – a time to honour and celebrate special people like Jodi and Bev. If you are 19 years or older, can provide a safe, loving, stable and supportive environment, and have a desire to make a difference in the life of a vulnerable child, call the Foster Line toll-free at 1 800 663-9999 or visit: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/foster

Quick Facts:

* Foster family homes are the primary placement resource for children in care in B.C.

* These homes support children and teens who are unable to live with their traditional family for reasons of abuse, neglect, emergency or tragedy.

* 60% of children in care in B.C. are Aboriginal compared to only 12 per cent of B.C.’s foster parents. There is a need for more Aboriginal families willing to foster so that all children in care can maintain their cultural and community connections.

* Foster parents must be in good physical and mental health. They receive training and undergo background, criminal record and reference checks. On average, the approval process takes three months.

* Once the approval process is successfully completed, new foster parents sign an agreement outlining their responsibilities and complete the 53- hour B.C. Foster Care Education Program within two years. Learn More: Foster Family Month in B.C information kits: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/foster/ffm.htm B.C. Federation of Foster Parent Associations: www.bcfosterparents.ca/

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