May is foster care awareness month
By Allison Hurtado
Special to the Independent
Nicole Singleton has been saying for years that she wanted to skip the diapers stage and just adopt an older child but it wasn’t until two years ago when she became a licensed foster parent that that actually became more real.
“I was just trying to figure out how I was going to give back to the community when a friend invited me to a Child Crisis Arizona pool party,” Ms. Singleton said. “By the end of the week they had a home visit scheduled and a class picked out. I realized I’m actually doing this.”
She chose to get licensed to foster kids 7 years and older because she works during the day and has experience as a high school teacher. Older kids seemed like a better fit for her. It was in September that she met the first child she really connected with.
“That night my boyfriend was coming over for dinner so I just told him we had an extra guest,” Ms. Singleton said from her Glendale home. “He didn’t realize until months later that we had just met. We just hung out in the kitchen and it was instant connection.”
The hardest part about fostering a teen has just been getting to know each other, she said. It’s tough to know what might trigger a reaction until it happens or what expectations need to be taught. Fortunately, because of her age, that teaching and learning can happen quickly. Then it’s on to the best parts — all the milestones.
“We’ve celebrated her sweet 16, we’ve done high school sports and we’re doing driving,” she said. “Recently she didn’t like what I made for dinner so I gave her $10 to buy what she needed at the grocery store to cook her own meal for us. It’s been fun.”
The next milestone Ms. Singleton is looking forward to is the adoption, which will happen this summer.
There are thousands of children over the age of 13 in foster care in Arizona. As children age it becomes increasingly difficult to find homes willing to take them in. That’s why during May, National Foster Care Month, Child Crisis Arizona is encouraging more community members to consider opening their homes to a child in foster care.
“These kids need a consistent adult to model what a healthy relationship looks like,” said Torrie Taj, CEO of Child Crisis Arizona. “As a foster parent you have an opportunity not only to provide a life-saving service to a family but really get to know a child and provide a foundation for them that they can build on.”
The process to become a foster parent begins with an orientation. The next foster care and adoption orientation with Child Crisis Arizona takes place Tuesday, June 4, at 817 N. Country Club Drive in Mesa.
“We’re so grateful to all the families who’ve partnered with us to grow their family through foster care and adoption,” Ms. Taj said. “It’s not an easy journey but we know it’s worth it.”
Visit childcrisisaz.org .
Editor’s note: Allison Hurtado is the marketing and communications specialist for Child Crisis Arizona.
IF YOU GO
What: Foster care and adoption orientation
When: Tuesday, June 4
Where: Child Crisis Arizona, 817 N. Country Club Drive, Mesa
More Information: Call 480-834-9424 or visit childcrisisaz.org