“Our purpose was to help others, help kids.”
May 2020 · Foster Family Features
After fostering children for more than a decade, Kevin and Lori still don’t believe they’re anything special. They’ve simply done what they were supposed to do. It’s how they were raised.
“It’s what we were brought up to do,” said Lori. “We give back, first to family, then to friends and the community. Always give back.”
You could say their foster care journey started more than 15 years ago when they assumed legal guardianship of Lori’s 4-year-old niece, and 5-year-old nephew. They didn’t even think about it. As far as the Salina, Kansas, couple was concerned, the children were family and they needed help. So, they took in the two little ones and began raising them as their own. About four years into it, they began having conversations with Kevin’s cousin, a licensed foster parent.
“He told us about all these kids who needed homes,” said Lori. “So, Kevin and I talked about it for several months and then decided to go ahead and get licensed ourselves.”
Over the last 12 years, they’ve fostered dozens of kids, most of them teens. Since the children would have to share bedrooms with their niece and nephew, they made sure they were the same ages. And once that same niece and nephew grew up and moved out, they kept taking teens and youth aging out of the foster care system.
Kevin and Lori say it’s been a learning experience – for themselves and for the kids.
“Every child is different,” said Lori, “so you have to make decisions with that in mind. To be honest, some of these kids are self-destructive, so it can be a challenge because you can’t just apply the same strategies to every child across the board. So, we work closely with the workers and the child and even the bio family to try to identify the best resources available to them, whether it’s mental health services, therapy, or drug and alcohol treatment. The child has to get onboard and be willing to do the self-work, too. Once it all starts rolling, you can see the shift in the child.”
“Many have had no guidance in their lives,” added Kevin. “So, when they first come here, it’s like they’re lost. We teach them how be adults, and we get good results.”
Whatever they’re doing, it works. They still stay in contact with many of the youth they’ve fostered, some of whom are now married and have families of their own.
“It’s cool when they bring their kids to come see us. It’s rewarding to see them become good adults,” said Kevin.
“It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something when I can help someone have a better future,” said Lori. “I think that was always my purpose. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that my life isn’t just for me, it’s to do something for other people, to be of service.”
They serve children mostly by just being there, by simply caring.
“Children in foster care need trust, love, and someone who will be there for the long haul,” said Lori. “That stability is important. They also need good role models, good mentors, and I feel we’ve been that for a lot of these kids. When they thank us and tell us we’ve made a difference in their lives, well, that keeps us going.”