May is National Foster Care month.
We asked our social workers: “What foster families inspire you?”
Tondra Stiles sent this reply:
All of them!! Each one of the families I work with has unique qualities that make them incredible foster parents. I feel so blessed knowing when I go home each night that I don’t have to worry about the children I’m working with, because they are all safe and well-cared for. BUT, if I had to give a specific example, I would tell you about the Andersons (name changed for privacy).
The Andersons became approved to care for children in December 2012, the day after Christmas. While they do not have any biological children of their own, they jumped right into fostering with a placement of two children almost immediately.
Those particular siblings came from a very affluent background, and had very atypical adjustment issues. Rather than not being used to having their needs met, they were unaccustomed to the urban city (the Andersons live in the Grant Park neighborhood of Atlanta), pedestrians, and outdoor activities.
The Andersons were incredible with these two. They took them to hike Stone Mountain and showed them the diversity that exists in the city. They brought the kids to volunteer at a food pantry, which had a very profound effect on these wealthy children.
The Andersons really knew how to find what it is the children were lacking in their homes of origin – in this case, being humble and having quality outdoor family fun – and speak that into the children’s lives.
Their second placement was very different. Again, it was a sibling group of two (a girl nearly 4 years old, and a boy aged 6). The Andersons did not skip a beat with these children. The night they arrived they were full of energy, and a little frightened of the dark and a new house. The Andersons went on a “night walk” with flashlights to get the energy out, showing them where the sounds of the house were coming from (a MARTA train nearby, the dog next door, etc).
They immediately planned an awesome birthday party for the little girl, whose fourth birthday occurred just a couple days after being moved to the Andersons.
They have taken the kids to see snow for the first time in North Georgia, to the Botanical Gardens, the Aquarium, and most recently on a trip to Disney World for Spring Break!!! These children have had the opportunity for so many wonderful experiences that they may not ever have had before, thanks to the Andersons.
Most of all, the Andersons have really shown these children the love of Jesus.
They attend Inman Park UMC every Sunday, and their church community has really embraced the children. Their current foster children both love Sunday School and look forward to going.
Recently Mrs. Anderson was getting ready for an event at the church when her foster daughter asked, “Where’s Jesus?” Mrs. Anderson quickly answered that Jesus was in Heaven. Her reply was priceless: “No! He’s everywhere!” It doesn’t get much better than that!
Could your family show a child the love of Jesus by providing a loving, creative and caring temporary home? Find out more about fostering, and help us spread the word that we need more foster families!