How Kelsey Flannery Helped Foster a Family
We are so excited to have Kelsey share her story with us. She is truly an amazing person and someone who really cares about supporting those who are in the foster care system. She didn’t just foster the child, she helped foster a family and went above and beyond what was expected! Thank you Kelsey for your ongoing contribution in the world. We were also lucky enough to interview Kelsey on our podcast and you can check that out by clicking here.
Now here is her story:
When the idea of becoming a foster parent first came to mind, there was one question I kept asking myself. “How am I going to work with the biological family of the children who came into care?” You hear the horror stories of the biological parents who dislike everyone involved in the case all too often, but rarely do you hear the stories of two strangers coming together, building a relationship, and ultimately that relationship turns into those two people becoming family. I am here to share my story of how my foster son’s biological mom changed my entire outlook on foster care.
When I first got “the call” for my foster son I was excited, but nervous hearing the family history. This was the first biological family I worked with. My previous foster son’s bio’s had already voluntarily surrendered their rights before coming to me. The reasons for removal hit close to home, substance abuse. One of the biggest reasons children are coming into care in my area. When I first laid eyes on this beautiful little boy who was sleeping so peacefully in the midst of such chaos and sadness, I instantly fell in love. So tiny and innocent and doesn’t have the slightest clue on what’s happening in his short little life. I took him out of his car seat and hugged him. I sat down and talked to our investigator, she had nothing but genuinely nice things to say about his biological mom. From that point I was anxious to meet her, yet I looked forward to experiencing something I had hoped for since I completed my foster parenting training, to help this family heal as a whole.
The first time I met my foster son’s mom was in a crowded court room, she was incarcerated at the time so we didn’t have the opportunity to introduce ourselves, she stood up to speak and it’s something I never expected. She was so soft spoken and seemed so gentle and harmless. My initial thought was she didn’t belong here, there has to be a mistake! She’s early 30’s, beautiful long brown hair held up in a bun. She looked lost, sad. Escorted out by a bailiff, and I just wanted to hug her and promise her I will take care of her sweet little boy and I will do anything I can to help her through this tough time in her life. After court is when I decided to write her a letter. I contacted my caseworker and she seemed shocked I asked for the mailing address of my foster son, “K’s” mom. I insisted I wanted to send a letter to tell her about myself, give her updates on her son, and send pictures. So that next morning I sent my letter and hoped somehow it will give her a peace of mind knowing how much I care not just for her son, but for her also.
After bio mom “A”, was released, we were finally able to meet at my foster son’s visit. It was quick but I gave her a hug and told her I’m thinking of her and I am here for her in any way she may need me. I gave the caseworker my phone number to give to her so we can talk and get to know each other. That very next week was her birthday and I wanted to do something special for her. I purchased a necklace with both of her biological children’s names engraved with their birthstones, a picture frame of her son, and a card. Every time I see her she is still wearing that necklace. Soon after that, she asked if I could supervise visitation. I was so excited she was comfortable with me being there while she spent time with her kids. I was determined to help her. She wasn’t defined by her past. She was just lost, addictions may change your personality, but it doesn’t ever change your heart. She’s a great person, there are so many great qualities about her which would make anyone lucky to be in her life. She’s a great mom, loving, nurturing, patient, and gentle. She is a great friend, honest, trustworthy and kind. Watching her overcome her struggles has been eye opening for me and my family. She is my motivation for wanting to help other biological families succeed in getting their children back. She invited me to her parenting classes. I proudly sat next to her and listened to her talk about the struggles she has faced. Quitting was never an option for her. She is a warrior for facing her biggest fears with determination, courage, and strength. She is inspiring, and I have so much to thank her for.
Our relationship and friendship didn’t end when her son got moved into a medical foster home. It continues, and will continue to grow stronger. She is so close to getting her kids back and I knew she was struggling getting some things to pass her final home study. So my husband and I knew immediately we needed to help. After all, that’s what family is for!!! We helped her buy beds, car seats, clothes, locks for cabinets, safety plugs. My husband fixed the ceiling that was falling down, and replaced a few electrical outlets. The best part about that day is watching ‘A’ parent my children. She took initiative when my 2 month old foster son was crying, took him out of his car seat and fed him a bottle. To watch my biological children interact with her, and tell me how much they love her too is heartwarming, and the biggest blessing I’ve yet to experience while being a foster parent.
Within 3 months of becoming a foster parent I found my true purpose. That is to do my part in helping reunify families, to help the parents and children heal. I can only hope my story will give other foster parents hope when working with biological families. You build a relationship based on boundaries, trust, compassion, love, and empathy. I can’t promise you it’s going to be easy, but I can promise you that your foster child will always benefit from seeing you care and love his/her biological family. There is no greater joy than helping another family improve their life.