A Positive Connection Can Make a Difference

For years, Cheryl and Dave had wanted to foster or adopt. It was a big step they wanted to be prepared to make, and they were waiting for the right time. But when three family members required temporary foster care, they decided to start the process and become licensed.

After the child returned home, Cheryl and Dave knew they wanted to continue showing that same support for other children.

“One of the main goals we had was to teach our four biological children to be selfless. They had to give up a lot – actual bedrooms, one-on-one time with mom and dad,” Cheryl says. “But we’ve all gotten so much more than we’ve ever given.”

Cheryl and Dave have been licensed as foster and adoptive parents for 17 years now and have adopted three children. They love taking a family photo together each year on the first day of college football season to document how their family has grown and changed.

And in that same time, they have also fostered more than 25 kids – almost always teenagers.

“They were the right fit for us,” Cheryl says. “We like having kids you can reason with, we like teaching life skills and independent living skills like how to make a meal and budget. That’s where we found our wheelhouse.”

Cheryl says her family is also passionate about caring for children who are coming to their home from a group care or shelter placement. She says the children come with a support system of therapists, behavioral health care workers, or juvenile court workers, and her family keeps kids connected to those support networks whenever possible.

Over the years, Cheryl and Dave have also become familiar with juvenile court officers and workers from across western Iowa, and those personal connections help ensure kids find their perfect fit in their home.

“Now they know us and they know what kind of kid will succeed in our home,” she says. “And when you talk to their treatment team, you find out more about who the child is as a person.”

Cheryl says she knows there are more kids like her own children – especially teens – in need of foster and adoptive homes, and she hopes more families will open their hearts and answer the call.

“These kids are just kids. A lot of them started with a deck stacked against them. Just given the chance and the right support, a positive connection can make a difference,” she says. “And don’t judge the kids or their parents based on the actions from their worst day. Some of the kids have gathered a long list of diagnoses, charges, or previous placements that don’t truly reflect who they are.”

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