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A Non-Traditional Family Through Foster Care

03/24/2016 10:00AM ● Published by Hood Magazine

By Audra Staebell, Licensed Foster/Foster-to-Adopt Parent  


My family journey began in May 2013 when I was diagnosed with stage IV endometriosis. This is a disease that many women are afflicted with in various degrees.  As a result of my stage IV circumstance, in November 2013, I underwent a full hysterectomy. I do not have children of my own due to infertility associated with endometriosis, but had always thought I’d more than likely adopt, or look into becoming a foster parent. My diagnosis propelled me from just thinking about this and I took action. During my recovery, I passing the time reading various magazines and came across a written plea from our First Lady of South Dakota, Linda Daugaard, who posed the question: “Would you be someone who would be willing to change the life of a child?” It was then, after serious reflection, I realized everything happens for a reason.  So I investigated resource options and completed the PRIDE (Parents, Resource Information, Development and Education) training required for one to become a licensed foster/foster to adopt parent. The classes were instrumental in preparing me to become a confident, informed foster parent.


Though my professional experience is in education and I have volunteered with numerous children-oriented organizations throughout the years, one does not need to have these types of experiences, nor have their own kids, to be a foster parent. You simply need to have the desire to help children and our community and be willing to open your home and life up to a child who has experienced neglect or abuse. You become part of a supportive, dynamic system whose priority is to provide these children with a stable home. It’s a place where they will feel safe and loved in a non-judgmental environment and whose main goal is to reconnect them with their birth parent. There are countless children in our community who need loving, stable homes. I began my journey as a licensed foster parent doing respite care for children in need as I feel this was a good first step for me to “ease” into permanent, or short-term placements in my home.  It has been an amazing, fulfilling experience and you get back just as much as you put in. These children need love and support so much from us. You don’t have to be perfect - just provide acceptance, a warm meal, a fun movie or a soft, safe place to sleep. These children find comfort knowing you are someone who cares about them. The number one comment I get from others when they find out I’m a licensed foster parent is: “Oh, that’s so wonderful, but I could never do that, I’d become too attached to the child”. Though I realize this choice is certainly not for everyone and should never be made cavalierly, it might just be something you may want to consider. 


I want to look back on my life and know that even though I was dealt a hand that did not allow me to have my own biological children, I did what I could for those in need and gave back using the gifts I’ve been given to others. To me, that’s a successful life, a life well lived. My family is indeed not a traditional one. I simply appreciate sharing my story and informing others that kids in our community need us and families come in all shapes, colors and sizes.  

Parenting, Family, In Print, Today foster parent