Already parents to 5 biological children, Lanell and Andrew recently made the decision to open their home to foster children. “Years ago, as newly weds, we had considered adoption. Then, when my youngest child entered pre-school, and our other children were already in school, we made the decision to become a foster family.” At first, Lanell talked to current foster parents and also parents whose children had been in the foster care system. “I discovered that there are countless children who desperately need a safe, loving place. My husband and I talked about it and decided that we could provide a caring, temporary home for a child in need.”
As Lanell and Andrew began their journey to becoming foster parents, they encountered a few moments of uncertainty. “The IMPACT pre-service training classes brought to light the reality of foster parenting,” Lanell commented. “We struggled with the question: Can we do this?” Ultimately, Lanell and Andrew decided to continue on with the support of Bloom’s program staff. “We are so thankful that Bloom offers classes and training to help understand the needs of the children. They even customize the training topics to meet our needs. When the staff considers a new placement for our home, we feel no pressure to accept if the child is not the right fit for our family. Also, the Bloom staff has been very transparent about each potential foster child’s background.”
Six months ago, Lanell and Andrew received their first successful placement. The couple came to the rescue of a newborn baby boy with special needs. The baby went straight from the hospital to Lanell’s open arms. “When we found out that we would be fostering a newborn, we had less than a day’s notice,” Lanell recalls. “We went to The Bloom Closet to get all the baby gear we needed – a crib, car seat, clothing, and diaper supplies.” Lanell’s foster baby was just one of the 1,200 foster children who visit The Bloom Closet annually. “I love the Bloom Closet,” Lanell says. “It’s designed to make foster kids feel like they are shopping at a boutique. Best of all, the children who come into care with nothing can choose their own clothes and supplies. Although it’s nice that the foster parents don’t have to buy the items, the most important thing is how special The Bloom Closet makes foster children feel.”
What does Lanell like best about foster parenting? “The most rewarding part of fostering is getting to see our foster baby learn to attach,” she says. “It’s also rewarding to go to visitations and see parents progress through their case plan.” For Lanell and Andrew, being supportive of the reunification process is an important part of fostering. “Most of the biological parents are good people who have made poor decisions. Given the right tools, many parents are willing to do what’s needed in order to be reunited with their children.”
Becoming a foster parent is a big decision. When asked her advice for families considering fostering, Lanell says, “If you are thinking about it, attend a Bloom Foster Parent Information meeting. Don’t just look online. Talk to Bloom’s staff or current foster parents to educate yourself.”
Bloom hosts informational meetings every Thursday at 10:00am and 6:00pm at Bloom, located at 150 Marquis Dr, Fayetteville GA 30214. For more information, please call Shannon at 770-461-7020 x 303.