Lubbock, TX - At the end of 2016 there were nearly 400 children in the foster care system in Lubbock County. Only 31% of those children have an actual home to go to. The need for foster parents to house these children who have been removed from their home at no fault of their own is huge. We went into two different foster homes and talked about why they felt moved to foster children.
Sara Hooks is a first time foster parent and says that as soon as the child laid his head on her shoulder that was it, instant connection. She says, "CPS brought him to my house and I felt like I was in love before I ever saw him."
Children are taken from their homes because of abuse, neglect and drug abuse and families like the Dawsons say they are so grateful they decided to become foster parents.
Foster Dad, Aaron Dawson says that becoming a foster parent saved him, "this is unlike anything else has been the biggest blessing in their lives, it's difficult and isn't always fun and easy but there is no greater joy in our life than getting to do this."
Aaron and his wife Deanna have been fostering for three years and they have a house full with six kids. They have their two biological, one adopted and three foster children.
Becoming a foster parent isn't hard but it's not a cake walk either. You have hours of training and case studies and then the inspections on your home. The fire department has to come in to check the home for safety, the health department comes in to check the refrigerator for the right temperature. Making sure that medications are locked up along with cleaning supplies because nothing can be out. Everything has to be out of reach.
Foster parents are there for the children whether they adopt or just provide a stable home for the kids while their parents are working through their plans. Sara tells us, "you take these children in no matter if they go back to their parents or stay with you. You give them all your love and attention. And that can be hard once you are attached to these children. Deanna Dawson states, "we've had kids we've cried over, we've had kids that we have been happy they were able to go back to their family because we know that's where they need to be and we've had kids we've fought to go back to their family because we believe their family would be the most nurturing place for them.
That's why most people say they just couldn't be foster parents, it's too hard or it's not their responsibility. But Aaron feels differently, "if you feel like it isn't your responsibility then your mind isn't going to change, but we do, this is our community, it's our responsibility. Overseas adoptions are great but we have children in our own back yard that absolutely need this and until we see to these kids we are not going to make the decision so I would encourage them it's possible and it's fun and there's a growing community of support here in Lubbock."
In the end, both sets of families say foster care is worth it. Sara Hooks says, "all the things you have to do yes there's a lot of tedious stuff you have to do. Like Documentation. But it's just so worth it. Just the reward of knowing that you're helping someone and you are able to be this child's stability and help them through whatever they are going through that in itself has been a huge reward for me."
If you would like more information on becoming a foster parent or learning more about what it takes, check out the website www.oneheartorphancare.org for more.