Like gifts, gatherings, and good tidings, family is central to the holiday season. Many of us have treasured holiday family memories from childhood, or from watching the faces of our own children light up with holiday joy.
But for hundreds of children in our community, the holidays can serve as a painful reminder of the difficulties that they have endured. Too many children have suffered abuse, neglect, and abandonment, and they urgently need caring foster or adoptive parents to welcome them into their lives.
That is why I invite you to consider giving a precious gift – the gift of family and home – to a child, teen, or group of siblings here in Hillsborough County this holiday season.
Why foster parents are so critical in our community
Children enter the child welfare system through no fault of their own, but because of the trauma that they have experienced. The problems that lead to this are often broad and societal – addiction, inequality, and generational cycles of violence. Yet the solution to this problem is personal and local. It is caring members of the community like you who are willing to open their hearts and homes to make a lasting difference.
Foster parenting is one important way we can make an incredibly positive impact. Foster parents provide a temporary refuge to children when they need it most, offering a safe place to heal until they can be safely reunited with their families or transition to another permanent living situation.
Foster parents are everyday heroes who make a difference for a lifetime in a relatively short amount of time. They put their values and compassion into action, helping children lead better lives through love, care, and providing positive role models.
Is fostering or adoption right for you?
Many people might think of foster parents as being “not like me,” but the truth is that most people with the heart and motivation can become great foster parents. There are many myths about fostering – such as that you must be rich, married, or a homeowner to foster. Others think they cannot foster because they are older or are part of the LGBTQ community.
The good news is that the basic requirements for becoming a foster parent are fairly straightforward: being a legal Florida resident who is at least 21 years of age, who has the love and ability to care for children, who can pay their bills, and who has adequate room and beds in the home.
Foster parents also pass a background check, have a home study conducted, and go through valuable training as part of the licensing process.
The goal for foster children is to reunite them with their parents. But when that cannot happen, many children become eligible for adoption. Adoption gives local youth a forever family with the same rights and privileges as a biological child.
Whether foster parenting or adoption is right for you, I urge you to consider if you feel called to step forward this season to help children in our community. The first life you change will be your own as you give a gift that truly lasts a lifetime.
Learn more about how to become a foster parent in Tampa Bay
For more information, or to start your fostering or adoption journey, please visit us online at ChildrensNetworkHillsborough.org. We look forward to welcoming you into our incredible community of foster and adoptive parents!
*Presented by Children’s Network of Hillsborough