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Give the Gift of Family Through Fostering

Every Child Deserves Loving People in Their Corner

Receiving gifts brings forth a chain of emotions, anywhere from mystery to anticipation to joy. Having a family is much like being the recipient of these gifts in its unpredictability and surprises. For Matt and Mary Evans, their family is an ever-evolving string of gifts full of love, security and respite within a population whose needs are continuously growing.  

Growing up with cousins who were adopted out of foster care, Mary Evans was always aware of the needs of foster families and understood the impact it could have on children’s lives.

“Knowing how many children there are that have nowhere to go, and how many families are out there that are struggling who just need a little bit of assistance to keep their family safe and together has always been heavy on my heart,” Mary says.

It is this vision that led them to fostering. At any given time, between two to eight children share their home, and she notes that finding the joys in fostering is the thing that keeps most foster families going.

“[We find joy] in seeing children that come from very difficult places become successful, loving children and young adults; building positive relationships with the biological families, and helping so many families recover from their own abusive pasts and helping them get their children back home.” 

Connection + Trust

They currently have four children in the home ranging from four months to 17 years. They have seen many foster children come and go, some staying short-term and some longer, but the one thing that remains constant is providing a safe home for children that is centered in nurturing and understanding. They also add that it is the open relationship built with the birth families that led them to adopt two children of their own. In developing trust and connection with the children and the families during their time in care, they were eventually asked to adopt and added the gift of sons to their forever family. 

Mary is quick to say that anyone who has a heart for children and families should consider fostering and that there is flexibility in ages and needs. She suggests not to buy into the myths surrounding fostering and rather rely on others who have experienced the fulfillment it can offer. 

She explains the process as being a relatively easy one that begins with contacting a licensing agency in which to partner in fostering. This agency will help in setting up Model Approach to Partnership to Parenting (MAPP) classes. Once the classes are complete, a social worker is assigned to the home and will do a walkthrough to ensure all the Kansas Foster Home regulations are met. Following the walkthrough, the family will receive a copy of their license and can begin taking phone calls to have children placed in the home. Mary notes that although the process may seem daunting, the rewards make it all worthwhile and offers this advice:

“Be patient. Everyone from foster homes to workers are overworked because so many kids need homes and services. Everyone tries hard, so giving grace to everyone involved and continuing to work as a team with the biological family, workers and other parties involved in the case is very important. Also, building a relationship with the biological family of the child is huge. When the biological family knows that you are there to support them and lift them up and not take their child away from them, it makes everything go smoother. Everyone is able to let their guard down a little bit, and as a result, the child receives more love.”

Love + Acceptance

Mary recognizes that fostering comes with its share of ups and downs, but that this is no different from other families. Any family can have challenging behaviors; however, she realizes that trauma impacts every single child who comes through her door as a foster parent. One of her biggest hopes is that people will see past the trauma and accept them for who they truly are—children who need loving people in their corner. It is a gift they all deserve. 

With limited human and financial resources, many foster children suffer and linger in care much longer than they would with proper support and more foster families. Fortunately, the community can get help—from agencies that accept donations of clothes and hygiene items, to churches that organize fixing meals for foster families, and organizations that do respite events for foster families. 

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