In foster families, love is thicker than blood
Supporting Island Families -
Lori Johnston says you don’t need a perfect house with a white picket fence to foster a child.
You only need to open your door – and your heart.
“Foster parents don’t have to be typical,” says Johnston, who has fostered Island children in need for more than 16 years. She’s had four long-term placements of teenage girls and has given respite to many others.
“Family isn’t just who you’re born into, she said. “You don’t have to be blood to be family.”
The 43-year-old single mother has seen her own 10 and 12-year-old daughters bond with – and learn from – their foster siblings.
“I hope it gives them a sense of caring and a realization that other people need help,” she said.
Her last two foster daughters went on to find happiness and success. One who lived with her for eight years just graduated from Dalhousie University.
“We all went over for her graduation,” she said. “She is my girls’ big sister.”
There is always a need for more foster parents in Prince Edward Island; there are children of all ages, abilities, and needs who require placement. Child and Family Services offers many supports to foster parents. For example, both foster parents and children have their own social workers they can speak to if issues arise that are difficult to address in the home.
A foster parents’ cluster meets once a month to offer each other support. Johnston said she learns a lot from this group, even parenting pointers for her own two daughters.
In addition, foster parents receive monthly compensation based on the needs of the child and the level of care provided.
The family’s latest foster child is a teenage girl who arrived Easter weekend.
The Grade 10 student said the group home she was staying in had become overcrowded and she was happy to learn she had a placement.
“You hear a lot of stories so you never know what you’re getting into,” she said. “I knew immediately I was going to like it here.”
Johnston says most children she’s fostered just need a place to feel safe and accepted. She encourages people to consider foster parenting as an option because there are always children who need supportive homes.
“A lot of foster children get bounced around a lot,” she said. “I want to offer a non-judgmental place where they can get upset, even close the door and scream or yell, and that’s ok – because tomorrow morning, there will still be pancakes.”
For more information, visit Foster Parenting (beafosterparent.ca) or call Child and Family Services at (902) 368-5381 (Charlottetown, Montague and Souris) or (902) 888-8130 (Summerside and O’Leary).