Four years ago, when Lee Adams received a call about fostering a 17-month-old little boy, he didn’t hesitate to say yes. He called his wife, Sheila, and the two quickly picked up a car seat, diapers, and other odds and ends that they’d need to care for a toddler. It had only been three months since the Freeport, Kansas, couple had finished their foster care training classes. And, already, they were welcoming a child. Lee and Sheila were elated.
After years of trying to conceive a second child – son Trace is now 15, the Adams’ turned to foster care with the hope that they’d be able share their lives with more children, even in a short-term capacity. The toddler, named Timothy, arrived with a sweet temperament, but withdrawn. Social service workers had found him alone in his home, abandoned by his birth father. His mother, evidently, died from complications due to cancer shortly after he was born. “He had long blonde hair and just the saddest little eyes,” Lee recalled. “It was late, 10:30 or so when he arrived, I took him out of his car seat and he just curled his body around me. I was attached right away.” Timothy, now 5 and in kindergarten, called Lee and Sheila, “dad and mom,” not long after he arrived. When he became available for adoption, the couple knew he was already part of their family. “The good Lord took care of him and us,” Lee said.
With two boys – brothers who get along most of the time and fight some of the time – the Adams’ could have stopped fostering. It can be draining, Lee said, and “hard, difficult, tough on your marriage, and all of the things you might imagine.” But, it’s rewarding, he continued. “Besides, if we don’t do it, who will?” The Adams’ have provided foster care to six children, several for a year or more, in the past four years. Lee sees how foster care has helped his eldest son, a high school freshman, learn about compassion and helping others, and how it helps Timothy be better at sharing. “It isn’t a sacrifice for us,” he said.
Kansas children come to foster care from all walks of life and from every community. Often, they are scared, confused, and angry. Foster parents like the Adams’ help restore trust and hope. Prospective foster parents must complete a free training offered regularly throughout Kansas called Permanency & Safety-Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (PS-MAPP).
Potential foster parents can stipulate the ages and genders of the children they’d like to foster. Foster children range in age from birth to 18, and in some case, 21. Many children enter foster care because of abuse or neglect, while others exhibit behavior disorders. There are currently many children in need of foster families. Saint Francis provides ongoing support and guidance for its foster families, including monthly support meetings, one-on-one case worker support, and a 24-hour crisis service.
The Adams’ lead hectic lives. Lee is a Harper County commissioner, a wheat and cattle farmer, and he coaches the high school freshman-sophomore girls basketball team. Sheila owns and manages a gifts store. Her boys and several of their foster children as toddlers have played in playpens at the store while Sheila finished up projects. Somehow, they make it all work. Lee and Sheila have also gone above and beyond, when applicable, to help their foster children reunite with birth parents. They facilitate visits, calls, or counseling sessions and attend all of the social service meetings. Lee said that it’s always difficult to say goodbye to a foster child, but it’s a little easier if they know that the child will be OK with his or her family. “We really try to help the kids, build their character, and teach them right from wrong,” he said. “We hope that’s a gift they take with them.” The couple has also stayed in touch with several of their former foster care children.
The Adams’ are looking forward to more happy memories this year. “We always make sure the kids get everything they need and want. They (the foster children) deserve to be happy.”
If you’d like more information about Saint Francis Community Services foster care services or upcoming PS-MAPP classes, please call 1-866-999-1599 or visit us at www.st-francis.org.