In recognition of Foster Care Month – May – a young foster family of three has been reverent in showing their support for going on two years. Only 27 herself, the foster mom hopes to encourage others to be more involved in the foster care system.
Sarah Spencer, the foster mom of three teenagers, and the mom to a biological son, said she has wanted to work with children since she was just a child.
“My favorite part of being a foster parent are the moments we get lost in uncontrollable laughter, or when we have random dance parties in the kitchen,” Spencer said. “During these times, I realize this normal family stuff brings healing to our foster kids’ heart. In these moments, they get to step away from the worry and just be a kid.”
Having been passionate about children since she was a child herself, Spencer said she felt God tell her to foster.
“I talked to my husband about it and we decided to pursue it together,” she said. “It wasn’t until our training that I realized I grew up in a foster home.”
She said her parents were foster parents, and they had even adopted her sister out of foster care.
“I recently realized it isn’t normal/common to be a foster family,” she said. “My experience growing up has helped so much with fostering now.”
She said being a foster parent is not knowing what to expect, but always willing to rise to the occasion.
“We always hope for the children to be reunited with their parents in a healthy home,” Spencer said. “We foster forgiveness, healing and trust between the kid and parent. We stand beside these families as they get back on their feet, we pray for them and encourage them to succeed.
Hoping for reunification isn’t always easy, because we fall in love with the kids. We have to remind ourselves, it’s what is best. In the event that reunification isn’t an option, we continue to foster healing, forgiveness and trust.”
With their foster children, Spencer said she hopes they see Jesus in her and her husband.
“I do my best to be the example of Christ and I have to apologize when I mess up,” she said. “I want them to know that they are so loved, and to know that they are worth the fight. I want them to also know that if they ever need anything, we’ll be there for them. If I can leave them knowing Jesus and their worth, then I succeeded.”
Spencer and her husband are currently fostering three siblings, and will soon adopt the three into their family.
“From the moment of our fosters stepped foot into my house it was like she had always been there,” she said. “After some time and pushing from me and the caseworker we were able to reunite her siblings in our home in June of 2020. Again, it’s like they’d always been there. When we look at our kids, biological and soon to be adopted, there is no difference in love.”
She said fostering is not easy, “but it’s so worth it.
“When I look back on those first moments with the kids that have come through our home to now, I can’t help but smile,” she said. “You can see a difference! Their eyes are brighter, they smile, they talk more and play more. I think as foster parents we get to give them the ability to just be kids.“
Spencer said fostering helps give the children normal lives, despite their situation at home.
“I have to say, the kids aren’t the only ones being influenced,” she said. “In fact, they leave a huge impact everywhere we take them. I’ve learned more from them than I could’ve ever taught them. They have even given my youngest, Hosea, a better chance.”
Hosea, Spencer said, has a rare genetic disorder which causes global development delays.
“Since they’ve come into our home he has reached milestone after milestone,” she said. “They take good care of him and push him to be his best. I’m glad to have their influence on our lives.”
In hopes of encouraging others to step up to be foster parents, Spencer said “‘I’d get too attached’ isn’t good enough of an excuse.
“Foster parents all over the country get ‘too attached.’ The very thing we’re scared of is exactly what these children need,” she said. “They need you to ‘get too attached.’ They need someone to be there for them and to hurt for losing them. We have to rise up and be the village. These kids deserve it.
“You may have to risk getting hurt to be a part of giving a child the opportunity to heal in a safe place, but it is worth it,” she continued. “Foster children are just normal kids going through great loss. I’ve heard it said ‘If you have more than you need, build a bigger table, not a higher fence.’ The fear of getting too attached is a good thing.”
For more information on the foster care system, or how to foster, call the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services’ Morgan Fitchenmayer at 903-495-5965.
“I encourage you to get past your previous perception about fostering and ask a foster parent what it’s really like. My husband and I foster teens which is not what we expected to do but we LOVE it!”