For 20 years, while his kids were growing up, Eddie and his wife welcomed wayward children from the neighborhood into their home. Some stayed a few weeks, some a few months. No formal agreements, just friends supporting friends.
Until Eddie and his wife divorced and he found himself alone a lot of the time. So Eddie reached out to The Village about becoming a foster parent.
It was a natural move on Eddie’s part. He himself had been a foster child. He lived in 3 to 4 different homes and all were positive experiences. One foster mother – Beatrice – he remembers in particular.
“She had multiple foster children at the time and one son of her own,” Eddie explained. “But I didn’t know which of the kids was her real son, because she treated us all the same.”
That inspired Eddie to provide the same kind of foster home.
When 9-year-old Alex (not his real name) arrived about 18 months ago, it was nerve-wracking for Eddie. “I didn’t know a lot about him – his likes, dislikes, his personality. I just didn’t know what to expect.”
It took a couple months for Alex to settle in. “When we watched TV together in the beginning,” Eddie says, “he would sit across the room. Then he moved to the opposite end of the couch I was sitting on. Now, he sits right next to me.”
Alex can still be defiant, but the training provided by The Village helped prepare Eddie for the experience. And whenever Eddie has a concern or question, The Village “is always responsive. They get right back to me when I call or email.”
The biggest challenge for Eddie is Alex’s reunification with his family. It’s hard for Eddie to think about having to let Alex go someday.
It’s hard on Alex, too. When visits with Alex’s biological family don’t go as planned, Eddie helps Alex with his disappointment. The bond between foster father and son has helped Alex to open up and address his feelings.
Alex is attached to Eddie now but, at the same time, wants to go home to be with his family.
Eddie tries to reassure Alex that they will always have a relationship. “I tell him it’s not what you do or where you are. It’s just you – I love you.”
The advice Eddie would give to others considering fostering a child is to remember that “you may have chosen to be a foster parent, but the child has not chosen to be a foster child. They occasionally act out, but you can’t take it personally.”
“You don’t have to have biology to connect. And you don’t have to be perfect. Just be yourself and let it happen.”
And Eddie appreciates the fact that Alex helps him to be a better person. “I have to think about how I live, what example I’m setting.”
“Kids are so resilient. If you set a good example and provide them with love, security and consistency, they will thrive.”
Learn more about becoming a foster parent here, or give us a call at 860-236-4511.