Could You Become a Foster Parent?

Triangle parents share their experiences


Published:

Charleen Evans (right) with her foster daughter, Briyanna.

Photo courtesy of Charleen Evans

When my friend, a foster parent, suggested that my husband and I also consider fostering, I shook my head. I admired her immensely. We wanted to help, and we had room in our hearts and home for more kids. But we could never be foster parents. Could we?

 

First, the Numbers

In Wake County alone, there are around 200 foster families and more than 700 children in care. It doesn’t take a mathematician to compute the overwhelming need. Add into the equation, however, a general misunderstanding of foster parents and the inherent challenges of foster care, and many qualified people simply say what I did: “We could never do that.”

Well, as it turned out, we could.

We spent two of the past three years as a licensed foster family. The experience was challenging, but also incredibly rewarding. And, for us, brief. Though reunification with the birth family is every foster family’s imperative, that outcome isn’t always possible. We adopted our first placement, then closed out our license to focus on meeting the needs of our expanded family.

I suppose it’s easy for me to say that welcoming a foster child into your heart and home is a risk worth taking. I’ll say it anyway. No matter what the outcome, you’ll gain back far more than you give.

The following conversations are with other foster parents serving kids in their communities. The journey to becoming a foster parent often starts with conversations like these, and the extending of an invitation. Consider this yours.

 


Melanie Shaw

Melanie Shaw works in the information technology field and has been a foster parent for 10 years. During that time, she has cared for 15 teenage girls.

 

Why did you become a foster parent?

My parents raised me to help people and give back where I can. This will sound selfish, but I also wanted to help teenagers because they were the age of the children I wanted to have but didn’t.

 

Whats it like being a single foster parent?

There are benefits to being a single parent to some kids. They are more comfortable without a man in the home because of what they’ve been through. I do work full-time, so I’ve had awesome social workers that help me meet the kids’ needs. I also use the respite care offered through other foster parents to take breaks. Fostering is emotionally challenging work. But this has been one of the best experiences of my life. It’s a joy to give these kids positive experiences they might not have had otherwise.

 

What would you say to someone interested in fostering?

I grew up on a farm and, to me, fostering is like farming. There are stages. Sometimes you plant the seeds but someone else does the watering. You don’t always get to see the harvest. You have to trust that these kids will take what you’ve given them into their futures.

Photo courtesy of Melanie Shaw


Lora and Christopher Addair

Lora Addair and her husband, Christopher, have been foster parents for five years. They have four children — two sons previously adopted from private agencies and two daughters whom they fostered and then adopted.

 

How did you approach fostering with your own kids, who are also in the home?

As a family. We talked to the boys and got their input first, so they saw it as something we were doing together. Once we had our first placements, they acted as stabilizers for the other kids. We have boys and fostered girls, so we did have to stay watchful. We addressed issues as they came up and made our expectations clear.

 

How did you balance the needs of your family with fostering?

We had regular date nights to stay connected as a couple and family nights to stay in tune with the kids. We also had to work together. Our foster kids needed to go to therapy, and we wanted to keep them in their same schools, so there was a lot of driving. But they’d already experienced so much upheaval that it was worth it.

 

What would you say to families who are interested in fostering?

You can change a life forever. You don’t have to be perfect, just available. Our lives are immeasurably greater for it!

Photo courtesy of the Addair Family


Charleen Evans

In the eight years that Charleen has been a foster parent, she has served six teenage girls. She also has two grown sons and seven grandchildren.

 

Whats your greatest joy as a foster parent?

It’s good to see that you’re making a positive impact. My goal is to make each child feel safe and loved and to give them the opportunity to be the best they can be during the time they’re with me. Some stay in touch after they leave. They ask my advice, which tells me they still trust me.

 

What would you say to someone considering foster care?

Fostering is a good fit for you if you love kids, have a positive attitude and are willing to take the time to make a difference in their lives. Also, know that you won’t be alone. A team of professionals will support you in helping your kids reach their goals. At the end of the day, all you can do is your very best.

Briyana and Charleen Photo courtesy of Charleen Evans


George and Edna Marshall

After raising two daughters, George and Edna became foster parents. Over the past nine years, they’ve helped more than 30 children. They are currently fostering four children ages 11 to 16.

 

Why foster at a time when most are taking it easy?

We saw underweight kids not getting balanced nutrition in our own county. It’s going on right here, and we don’t see it. That drives us. No one will leave our home hungry.

 

Whats your biggest challenge?

The media often portrays foster parents negatively. Everyone hears the bad stories, but no one sees all of the successes we have. We work hard to prepare these kids for life — succeeding in school, playing sports and finding jobs. We also work with birth families to prepare them to reunite with the kids.

Photo courtesy of the Marshall Family

 

What would you say to those interested in fostering?

You don’t have to be a lawyer or a doctor. You just need to give love, protection and safety to kids when they need it. We have a prayer hanging in our kitchen that we read to each kid who comes through the door:

“Dear God, swing the doors of our home wide so that all people will feel welcome and loved. May the floor and walls be strong enough to carry the burdens of those who come. We pray no one leaves feeling less than when he entered. May your love and peace cover and protect as each one departs. Amen.”

 

For more information on foster care or licensing through your county or a private agency, call 877-NCKIDS or visit ncdhhs.gov/dss/fostercare.

 

Christa Hogan is a freelance writer, mom of three and former foster parent.

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February 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
Website »

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Join park staff in collecting data for the 21st annual Great Backyard Bird Count. We will look and listen for birds in a variety of habitats, and keep track of how many individuals of each species...

Cost: Free

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Lake Crabtree County Park
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Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
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Cost: $18

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Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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The Wake County New Vehicle Dealers Association brings the world of cars and trucks to Raleigh. See hybrids, electric cars, SUVs, compacts, luxury vehicles and more. At the expo, the Carolina...

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Dorton Arena
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Parent and child spend time collaborating in a playful workshop that weaves music, color and improvisation. All ages. RSVP required by emailing admissions@studioschooldurham.org.

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Where:
Studio School of Durham
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Raleigh, NC  27601


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Cost: $32 and up

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
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Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601


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Go nutty for nature as children satisfy some of their curiosity about the world around them and parents share in the joy of discovery. Ages 3-5 with parent. Register online.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

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Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
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Cost: Free

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
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Cost: Free

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Enjoy a free slideshow of the birds of Yates Mill Pond. Over 150 photographs of birds are featured in the show, along with a few mammals. This slideshow, which has accompanying...

Cost: Free

Where:
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4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Join park staff in collecting data for the 21st annual Great Backyard Bird Count. We will look and listen for birds in a variety of habitats, and keep track of how many individuals of each species...

Cost: Free

Where:
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View map »


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Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

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Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Cost: Free

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Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Cost: Free

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Cost: $2/person

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Cost: $30

Where:
Baby + Company
226 Ashville Ave
Cary, NC  27518
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Telephone: 773-495-8117
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Read "Secret Pizza Party" by Adam Rubin and make personalized pizzas. Register online. Choose course #109612.

Cost: $23/resident, $30/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
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Cost: $3

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Stagville
5828 Old Oxford Hwy.
Durham, NC  27712
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See L.M. Montgomery’s beloved novel "Anne of Green Gables" come to life in this stage adaptation by Peter DeLaurier. Enjoy the misadventures of Anne Shirley, a...

Cost: $12/adult, $6/ages 18 and younger

Where:
The Clayton Center
111 E. Second St.
Clayton, NC  27520
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Sponsor: Clayton Youth Theater
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Raleigh, NC  27601
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See William Shakespeare's classical masterpiece brought to life on stage by director Leo Egger, who lends his own unique vision to production. Tickets are available at the door...

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Durham School Of The Arts Blackbox Theater
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Relive the magical adventure of Harry Potter's second year at school like never before. This concert features "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" in high-definition while...

Cost: $50-$80

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Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
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Cost: $35-$89

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Cost: Free

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Cost: $55/child

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SMILE Camp
6301 Hillsborough St.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Telephone: 919-538-5278
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N.C. Museum of Art
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Durham, NC  27707
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Cost: $12/adult, $6/ages 18 and younger

Where:
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Sponsor: Clayton Youth Theater
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More information

Applause! Cary Youth Theatre presents the tale of Scraps, who intends to go her own way until she happens onto an adventure that broadens her understanding of herself and the world around....

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC
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Enjoy a family-friendly comedy show from The Un-Intentionals Improv Troupe. Purchase food and beverages at the The Comedy Cafe before, during and after the show.

Cost: Free

Where:
First Baptist Church Morrisville
209 Church St.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: The Un-Intentionals
Telephone: 919-475-4211
Contact Name: Marc Moore
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Relive the magical adventure of Harry Potter's second year at school like never before. This concert features "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" in high-definition while...

Cost: $50-$80

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Telephone: 919.996.8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
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See William Shakespeare's classical masterpiece brought to life on stage by director Leo Egger, who lends his own unique vision to production. Tickets are available at the door...

Cost: $10/person

Where:
Durham School Of The Arts Blackbox Theater
400 N. Duke St.
Durham, NC  27707
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The Town of Cary’s 22nd annual celebration of African-American history and heritage features live entertainment and informative discussion. See the website for hours and fees. 

Where:
The Cary Theater
122 E. Chatham St.
Cary, NC  27511
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Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2017-18 Education Guide offers 660 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our debut Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. Plus, find out who our 2017 Readers' Favorites are.