Do you need help crossing the finish line?

By: Michelle, Cuyahoga County Foster Parent (Guest Blogger)

Michelle - Foster ParentMaybe you do, maybe you don’t. But the truth of the matter is many children in Cuyahoga County do need you to help them to cross the finish line! 

My name is Michelle, and I am a Cuyahoga County Foster Parent. My husband and I have been foster parents for a little over 3 years now. We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to adopt one of our foster children, and we currently have another child living with us still in foster status. 

Foster care is a protective service for children and families. It is the full-time, though temporary, care of children until their parents can resume their responsibility or if necessary until a permanent (adoptive) home can be found for them.

Adoption is the permanent, legal transfer of all parental rights and responsibilities from one family to another family. Adoptive parents have the same rights and responsibilities as parents whose children are born to them. It is the first step to a lifelong commitment of sharing your life with a child who is in need of a family that will keep him/her safe.  

You may be asking yourself, “What is daily life like for a foster parent?” My daily life likely doesn’t differ much from yours. My husband and I work full-time, the children go to school/daycare, the pets are fed twice a day, and no one in the house usually lasts longer than 9:30 pm (unless there’s cupcakes involved!) 

Why be a foster parent?

Becoming a foster parent was a very personal decision for me. I always knew I wanted children, but I also always knew I never wanted to have any of my own. I can remember as far back as 14 years of age saying “There are too many kids out there that need a home and the love I have to give,”. At that time, I didn’t know what my future self would do about that, I just knew what I wanted –  Don’t we all at 14?!? 

As I got into my 20’s, my thoughts remained the same. How to achieve that goal presented itself more clearly one day while listening to a radio personality discuss being a foster kid – and there it was. I had an epiphany and realized I could (and should) adopt! The answer was right in front of me. The next several years were spent working toward that goal. For what I wanted, that meant being in a relationship that was supportive of not having your own children, buying a house, buying vehicles that could accommodate multiple children, training pets to be kid friendly and so on.  A good portion of my life was spent preparing for children that may need the safety and security of a family. 

During the licensing process, since we were both Cleveland born and raised, we decided that’s who we wanted to help – To get the ball rolling, we signed up for Pre-Service Training Classes through the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services. The classes provided training for foster and adoptive parents, covering a wide array of topics including, cultural issues in placement, sexual abuse,  childhood development, and much more.  

I am not going to lie – when we signed up, it was with the sole intention to become adoptive parents only. We had heard and seen the news enough to think that the foster system was “ugly and cruel and those people only do it for the money.” However, once we saw how much the foster system and the kids of this county needed us, we knew what we were there to do. On April 14th, 2014, we became licensed foster to adopt parents, and have never looked back.  

Is this right for you?

This is a very personal decision you will have to make. You need to take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself the following questions:
  • “Can I be wholly committed to caring for a member of another family?”
  • “Can I take care of a child while being an unjudging friend/mentor to that child’s parent(s)?”
  • “What is my motivation?”  

These are all questions you need to ask and answer honestly! If you have come to the conclusion that you have the love, you know how to not judge, you can be a friend or mentor, and you can give wholly of yourself… then what are you still reading this for? You’ve taken the first step!   If you are serious about helping a child cross the finish line, which I hope you are, please contact the Cuyahoga County Division of Children & Family Services at (216) 881-5775. You can also check out the Foster and Adoption Guide for additional information about training, application, and frequently asked questions.  

Additionally, you can help support and raise awareness of the need for foster and adoptive families by registering for, the second annual Race For Home 5K Run/1 Mile Walk. Race for Home will be held Sunday, July 30th, 9:00 a.m. at Edgewater Park. You can register by visiting: http://www.hermescleveland.com/roadracing/events/raceforhome.asp

   

Is there anything else you should know?

In becoming a foster parent, you stand to not only change the life of a child in the most positive way possible, but it will also change your life in so many amazing and beautiful ways. Enjoy the journey!