There can never be too many people to love a kid.
It’s a theme that has carried Eric and Amy MacEwen through their family’s foster care and adoption journey. That journey has involved fostering multiple placements and adopting two different sibling groups in addition to adopting a daughter from China.
Following the birth of their two biological children, Eric and Amy MacEwen decided to adopt from China. After bringing their daughter home, they began to get involved in an adoption group at their church. It was there that they heard of the need for foster families. When presented with the need for such families, it didn’t take long for them to decide it was the next step for their family.
With a daughter from China, two African-American sons and three Hispanic children, the MacEwens are truly a multicultural family. Amy says they have made a family commitment to enjoy learning about all their different cultures. Everyone goes to Chinese New Year, Day of the Dead and Juneteenth festivities to support the respective family members. It also gives the family a unique position to be leaders in a multi-cultural church and relate to members of the congregation.
While several of their placements have been reunited with their parents, the MacEwens are still offering support to some of these families. In fact, they have built such a relationship with these kids and their parents that the children still routinely frequent the MacEwen home. The MacEwens provide mentoring to the parents, babysitting and taking the children to activities.
“A lot of parents out there need someone to come alongside them,” Amy says.
The experience has been life-changing not only for Eric and Amy as foster parents, but it’s also changed the perspective of their biological children.
“They have learned to see the world differently and to see that not all kids start out life the same way,” Amy says. “They are compassionate toward people who are different or who don’t fit in the same or who are going through tough times.”
Three years ago, Nick and Katie Welch had some friends who had a foster care placement. They had both always felt they should foster or adopt, but it was then they saw the opportunity to actually step up and get involved.
“There is such a need for safe families in Kansas City who can step in when parents are getting healing, and we feel that was a ministry our family can do together,” Katie says.
For the last two years they have had the same placement of a sibling group of three, and their two biological children have been instrumental to the success they have had as a foster family.
“It’s opened their eyes to the reality of life outside of their home…to bring in kids who have a completely different background has expanded their worldview and given them a more diverse way to look at life,” Katie says.
Amy and Katie say there are multiple misconceptions about foster care. Katie says one of the biggest misconceptions is that the goal of these situations is adoption. In reality, the goal of foster care is reunification with the parents.
“The goal is to keep the kids safe and offer them growth and healing while their parents do the same,” Katie says. “The happiest ending isn’t always adoption. The happiest ending is being with the biological parents in a safe and healthy environment.”
Something foster parents hear often from others is that others feel they could never be a foster parent because it would be too hard to allow the children go back home.
“None of the children asked to be in this position, and this is the worst time of their life for most of them,” Amy says. “If we can make it less hard and more secure during this time of their lives, then it’s worth any discomfort to us as adults. The child isn’t choosing to be in this situation, so we shouldn’t choose not to help because it’s too hard for us.”
Amy says it’s best not to ask foster parents about the children’s specific story and situation. In many cases they can’t share the details, and it’s really the child’s story to tell. Amy also says it’s best not to tell foster children they are lucky to have their foster parents because the children don’t always see it that way given what they have been through.
Amy and Katie say foster families are always in need of someone to bring them a meal, help with laundry, mow the lawn, assist with home repairs and the like. Katie encourages others to take the initiative to do those things for the family because they often won’t ask themselves. Providing supplies such as beds, cribs, toys and clothes is also a blessing to foster families.
If one isn’t ready to become a foster parent but would like to get a bit more involved, there is a big need for respite care providers who can be a support to foster parents. Amy says this a great way for one to gain exposure into what being a foster parent would be like.
While there are many difficulties in caring for a child who has experienced trauma, it also provides a deep sense of fulfillment for these families.
“It’s very rewarding to have a kid who had been through a hard time trust you enough to come to you for something,” Amy says.
Katie says she has learned to adapt, grow and change while providing healing. She says life should be full of serving others and doesn’t have to be comfortable.
“Our experience has been so life-changing I don’t think we could ever not do foster care because there is such a need,” Katie says.