The Heartwarming Story Of A Family Who Learned How To Foster Children And Let Them Go
Foster parents take on one of the hardest jobs in the world. They take in children, show them love and care, and often have to let them go again.
One foster parent, Grace Kriegel, says she fosters children to ensure they have a safe place when they're most in need.
Over the past two years, Grace has fostered eight children alongside her husband. One of their most recent children was an infant Pakistani girl. Grace says that when she was called about taking the little girl home, it was an unexpected and urgent call.
The parents were in the middle of the grocery store buying pants for one of their other foster children when they received the call.
The two parents didn't even need to have a discussion. As soon as they looked at each other, they knew the answer would be yes. While they were in the grocery store, they got a pack of diapers and some baby clothes, grabbed a car seat from their house, and had the baby in their arms 45 minutes later.
The girl's legal name was Safe Surrender. Grace and her husband weren't allowed to change the name. In less than four months, the baby began showing signs that she needed extra medical care.
Could the Kriegel family handle it? Yes, but the journey would ultimately be long and tough. After multiple diagnoses, Safe received a diagnosis of several birth defects. They would require surgery and a colostomy bag. The Kriegels were told they could give Safe up if her medical treatment was too much, but they knew they'd be able to take it on.
Grace and her husband sat beside the baby when she woke from her surgeries. They held her whenever she cried. They learned how to take care of her and her disability. They paid out of their own pocket for medical supplies and bought roomier clothes that would fit the colostomy bag.
They were with Safe through the entire healing process. Safe grew older, she learned to trust in hew new family. She flourished under the care and kindness shown to her. When she was 10 months old, her colostomy was reversed with one final surgery.
There was an attempt to find Safe's father, but it was ultimately unsuccessful. With no parents, the girl could legally be adopted. Fourteen months after they'd initially welcomed Safe to the family, the Kriegels had a court date to adopt this sweet child.
They finally had the opportunity to give their daughter a name. Grace turned to the smiling girl and proclaimed that her new name would be Arya. Her middle name? Hope.istockphotos.com/EmirMemedovski
This is a story with a happy ending. All the same, fostering children is a process that can lead to heartbreak. Many people don't understand what encourages foster parents to be part of the process.
Grace says that in many cases, children can be part of their biological family again after the family has taken time to heal. Once the family members are coping better with their stress, they can provide the love and care that their children need.
Grace tries to reach out to the biological families and forge meaningful relationships. She says that she always hopes to see her foster kids again, but that she hopes it will be in better circumstances.istockphotos.com/pixelfusion3d
Foster parenting isn't always an easy process. The Kriegels' lives are constantly changing as new children are introduced to or leave the home. Even though situations can be chaotic, Grace says she's willing to take on the challenge.
As for how she does it, Grace has a very rational view of the subject. She says that she's an adult who has the ability to process unexpected and sudden changes. But the children she fosters aren't.
They're often confused, scared, and hurting. Being removed from a home and placed in another can be traumatic. Grace says she wants to be the safe place that lost children can go.
Grace constantly adapts her view of what's normal for the household. The most important thing, she says, is that the children settle into the care. All the family members draw comfort from one another. This vital comfort helps Grace through rough times, especially when her foster children have heartbreaking stories.
Grace says she wakes up multiple times a night to hear children calling for her. She rocks them back to sleep until they've cried themselves out. She's responsible for dispensing medications, sitting in on therapy, documenting injuries, and filling out evaluations that request special resources.
She listens when her preschool-aged child tells her about the domestic violence in their home. She provides calming support when a preteen child struggles with tough mental health issues. She repeatedly opens the fridge to make sure the kids know they won't go hungry. She advocates for children and attends IEP meetings.
But she says the grief sometimes gets to her, too. She cries and leans on her husband for support. She feels the weight of the work. But at the end of the day, she forges on, because she knows she can make a difference to children who need it.
Have you ever fostered a child or thought about fostering children? Tell us about your experiences - and feel free to pass this on to your friends and family!