Foster care is something Nikita had always been familiar with. Her dad was in foster care as a child, and she remembers how it affected him and his siblings growing up. Now, Nikita and her husband, Matthew, are providing a shoulder to lean on for Iowa children and teens in foster care.
“I think we started this to honor my dad, but we continued because we wanted to hold a safe space for children hurting or scared,” Nikita says. “We want to give hope to those children – whether it’s hope to be back with their biological family, hope to be adopted, or hope for something different for their life.”
Nikita and Matthew became licensed to provide foster care and adopt in February of 2018. Since then, they have provided respite care for many children, fostered nine children, taken guardianship of one teen, and adopted one child.
The family especially loves wrapping care around teens in need of a temporary home. Nikita says fostering teens allows her to have more conversations, whether it’s talking through what is going on in a teen’s life, or what they look forward to in their future. Nikita and Matthew even dedicate time for one-on-one outings with each child or teen they care for, ensuring each of them feels valued and included in their family.
“We have been able to work on motivating them for the future they want, instead of a life that’s been determined for them,” Nikita says. “We get to introduce them to responsibility and real-life consequences in a safe, stable environment they don’t have to be scared to ‘fail’ in.”
Nikita and Matthew also prioritize finding the perfect home for each child, even if it means it’s not with them. If a child isn’t thriving in their home, they help them move on to another foster family that is the perfect fit for them.
“We were so afraid of ‘failing’ these kids by saying it wasn’t a good match,” Matthew says. “By saying ‘no,’ you give someone else an opportunity to say ‘yes.’ Swallowing your pride to advocate for both yourself and the child in your home is never a failure.”
There have been many favorite memories for the family over the years, but two stand out for Nikita: First, the day she knew a five-year-old child in her respite care was meant to be her daughter. And second, the moment a 17-year-old told her she wanted Nikita and Matthew to adopt her.
Nikita says her family never expected to adopt. They had two biological children already and their family felt complete. But now, they have no limit on who will join their family or when.
“These kids are worth it. You have the opportunity to totally alter a child’s life by loving them, being kind, and giving them grace. All the children who come into our home do not stay with us forever, but we have the distinct privilege of walking alongside each one of them as they navigate this scary, painful time in their lives,” Nikita says. “What an honor it is to hold the hand of a child, being an adult they can trust and lean on, knowing your kindness and grace and love in the short time you have them may change the trajectory of their lives.”