Ron, who lives in Spring Valley and drives a semi-tractor-trailer for a living, never expected to be a single dad fostering a toddler. His wife had suggested becoming resource parents, and Ron decided to support her in this decision. The couple went to an information session at Angels Foster Family Network, and Ron was instantly moved by the stories of infants and toddlers in foster care. Right then and there, he knew he had to help. “These children have no homes,” he says. “If we’ve got a home, why wouldn’t we offer it to a child in need?”
The couple went through the training and certification process at Angels and fostered a toddler for eight days before he was placed with a relative. Though it was a short stay, the placement had a tremendous impact on Ron. The child watched him doing a household repair with a screwdriver and said he’d only seen this tool used as a weapon. “That kind of abuse shapes you, so gives us an opportunity to help a child grow from that negative experience,” Ron says. He was grateful to create a stable and loving environment for that child and was eager to foster again.
The couple then opened their home to a newborn boy who had just been released from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital. The couple enjoyed fostering “John” for nearly two years. For reasons unrelated to fostering, their marriage deteriorated, and they decided to divorce.
Ron says he worried that he might not be eligible to foster on his own and was relieved that John was able to continue living with him even after his ex-wife moved out of state. “I love this little guy and my life is much better with him, and he knows that I care about him,” Ron says. “He and I love spending time together. On Saturdays, we take hikes and look at horses, then have breakfast,” he says. “Being with John is way more meaningful than having a bachelor life.”
Ron is quick to add that while he and John live on their own, they have a vast support network. “There’s no way I could do this by myself, it takes a village to raise a child,” Ron says. “I’ve got a great team.” He lists his clinical case manager at Angels, a speech therapist, a tutor, a child development specialist, the staff at daycare, a babysitter, and the congregation at his Presbyterian church. John spends his days in a preschool program, and Ron’s work accommodates the needs of parents, including resource parents like himself.
Ron says he went into fostering without knowing how many resources are available for people who foster. As a child in foster care, John qualifies for no-cost health care, therapeutic services, and food. There’s even a stipend to offset the cost-of-living expenses. “I went into this blind, but whatever resources are there, I want them for John because I want him to have everything he needs to make his life better,” he says.
Fostering didn’t look the way Ron had originally expected, but now he wouldn’t have it any other way. “When I get together on Guy’s Night from church, John comes along and he’s one of the guys,” he says. Ron says that he appreciates John’s biological mother and is rooting for her to take the steps she needs to reunify with John. The vast majority of fostering placements end in family reunification. On rare occasions, though, a child is placed for adoption. If that is the case with John, Ron says he would welcome the opportunity to adopt John.
Source: Angels Foster Family Network