Insight from a Foster Mom

Insight from a Foster Mom

Rebecca Carlisle has fostered two children through Spaulding. She had given birth to a son and thereafter pursued fostering. She and her husband were licensed in 2022 and their first placement of a daughter came in June. Since then, she has finalized the adoption of one daughter and is pursuing the process for her second daughter.

How prepared were you?

I was prepared in the sense I am more mature than in my earlier years. I have a greater sense of personal resolve that’s harder for a little one to shake with harsh words or tantrums. I still mess up, but the kids know I’m a person of my word and I don’t shift my behavior based on situation or surroundings.

I always wanted to help people. That’s part of what’s in foster and adoptive parents’ hearts.

What did you not expect?

I did not expect this level of difficulty, raising children with trauma. Most of the children in foster care have had a difficult process getting there. One of our daughters had been in four foster homes before she came to our house.

I did not expect the amount of education I would dive into to better understand my children’s complex needs, behaviors, and nervous system. You go through a bit of a honeymoon phase, so you can feel defeated when “true” or challenging behaviors arise or remain.

I did not expect the number of rules and boundaries that I would need to put into place. We utilized all sorts of strategies including cut and dry consequences for behavior to strict limits on electronics and using posters to explain our family values or how to speak kindly.

How was Spaulding helpful to you?

Spaulding offered training opportunities and have given us referrals for training/conferences. They provided access to digital training materials for my husband when in person was so difficult to fit in his busy schedule. I have a great relationship with my worker that makes me feel like I’m not alone in this. I’ll just shoot her a text with a challenge or a win and feel like I have someone in my corner.

What would you like to tell others about foster parenting?

Flexibility is key to fostering. Timelines are never what anyone expects. Whether you’re trying to get mental health services or waiting on court decisions, the variables are endless. We can’t look at our children through any lens other than curiosity.

Our preconceived ideas about behavior and what’s right or wrong, good or bad, does not apply any longer. We may have experiences that can give us insight, but we cannot assume anything with our kiddos. There is always a need behind their behavior, and you have to be an investigator to figure it out. Most of the time the kids don’t even know why they do something that may baffle us.

I’m not sure if this is true with all kids, but mine have an innate bond with their first family that is inexplicable. I have never tried to replace my kids’ mothers or caregivers, but I still have to lead my household as a mother. I do what I can to stand alongside them and honor that part of their life and the people they treasure.