Lessons from a Foster Parent

Shortly after moving to Portland, James and Cassie began hearing about the number of children spending time in Oregon’s foster care system. That’s when the first seeds were planted that they would someday become foster parents.

Fast forward two years, and this same couple has had the honor of having two young foster children in their home, hosting them until their mother was able to take them under her care again.

“As a foster parent, you have to guide them through tough questions when they ask “What’s happening,” or  “Why is this happening?” At times, the best and most honest answer to give was, “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but you have us, and you have so many families that love you…lots of people love you.” Over and over, James and Cassie would speak this honesty over the children, and to their surprise, the kids eventually embodied the confidence that they are loved by so many. The assurance given by a foster parent that a child is loved transforms the way the children see the situation they are in.

Of the questions presented by the children in these circumstances, the toughest one, and the most important one of all, comes down to what does family mean? “Family is bigger than who you’re related to.” For James and Cassie, the children and their biological mom, “family” was discovered to be a sum of deeper relationships.  

This family wasn’t created in isolation. The couple recognized the hard work of DHS workers, organizations such as WithLove, and all the folks who offer their help to foster families. “More people can be foster parents… it’s such an achievable thing.”

This is the hope we hold onto at Every Child, and we call Oregon into holding on to that hope with us.