Amber and Donald had always felt called to provide foster care. But any time they would consider taking the leap and starting the process, the thought of “what if?” would leave them feeling stuck.
“We had five biological children. What if foster parenting took time away from our older kids? We had all these questions, but we had to help. The need for foster care has always been there in our community,” Amber says. “God gives us all gifts, and parenting and helping in the community seemed to be what He put in our hearts. It was a no-brainer.”
Now, Amber can’t imagine life without the children her family has cared for over the years.
Amber and Donald became licensed to provide foster care and adopt children almost seven years ago. Since then, they have provided foster care for 17 Iowa children and adopted six. They have fostered children of all ages, including sibling groups, and her family has enjoyed caring for older children.
Amber says one of her favorite parts of foster parenting is seeing her adult children bond with each child who enters their home.
“It’s crazy to see our 25-year-old so bonded with our two-year-old. We don’t label the kids as ‘adoptive’ or ‘biological,’ they’re just all our kids,” Amber says. “That bond is just as huge whether it’s biological or not. I can’t believe we were ever concerned.”
As more families learn about foster care and the process of becoming licensed, Amber says it is critical to remember the main mission of foster care: reuniting families whenever safely possible.
“You do get attached to the kids, but we are so happy to see kids get that reunification with their birth family so there is not this huge loss in their life. And we’ve shed tears on adoption day because while we’re happy they get to stay with us, they are also going to have loss in their life forever,” Amber says. “So it’s a happy ending when they get to go home, because their parent did everything they needed to do and they went to bat for their kids.”
As western Iowa continues to see a need for more foster families, Amber says becoming licensed is one way Iowans can give back to their community.
Foster parents can come from all walks of life. As long as you have patience and the desire to help other families, Amber says, you can become a foster parent.
“If you haven’t found a place to help in your community, consider foster care,” she says. “It could be exactly what your purpose is.”