Liam* and Anela* were unsure if becoming foster caregivers was right for them. “We heard stories that foster care [was] really difficult because you develop a bond with a kiddo and saying goodbye is hard,” said Anela.
Through Amara, they learned that providing foster care meant providing a temporary and loving home for kids until they could get back to family. They felt more ready to say yes to fostering children. Anela said, “The training helped reframe my thinking. [Foster care] had less to do with my loss and more to do with helping a little one out while mom and/or dad figure things out.” And so, they opened their home and their hearts to a boy named Cameron*.
At first, Liam and Anela were nervous to engage with Cameron’s parents. They wondered, “How are [his parents] gonna view us?” Or worse, “Would [his parents] resent us?”
These are common questions among foster caregivers. And the child welfare system has not historically prioritized cultivating partnerships between parents and caregivers. This often leads to adversarial relationships with the child at the center, feeling torn between their caregivers and parents.
Amara’s programming and training, however, helps parents and caregivers meet, get to know one another, and build collaborative relationships to best support the child in care and their family. So when Liam and Anela brought their anxiety to their Amara social worker, she validated their feelings and offered strategies to help build and strengthen their relationship with Cameron’s family. They left understanding just how important it was that Cameron remain connected to his family and more ready to engage with them.
Cameron’s dad was incarcerated which made in-person visitations difficult, but he made it clear early on to Liam and Anela that he wanted to maintain a relationship with his son. They knew how much Cameron meant to his dad, so they made sure to stay connected through phone visits and video calls. Liam and Anela were also in contact with Cameron’s mom who was committed to seeing him once a week.
Over time, Liam and Anela’s blossoming relationship with Cameron’s parents grew to include Cameron’s extended family. His aunt contacts Liam and Anela every couple of weeks. They have even coordinated sleepovers with his cousins, which are so fun and special for Cameron!
Liam shares that “finding [out] more about his story from his family has been really helpful…We feel really blessed with being able to merge our families together.”
To this day, Cameron’s maternal grandmother invites their family over to her house for dinner and keeps them engaged through an active group chat on their phones. Liam and Anela know keeping Cameron connected to his family whenever possible is a key part to helping reduce trauma and experience more healing for him and his family. They can’t imagine, now, the hole that would exist in his story without these critical relationships. They are grateful for the trust they’ve built with Cameron’s family, the memories that he (and they) have made, and the guidance from Amara through it all.
“He feels more like he’s a part [of something] rather than pulled apart.”
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.