Foster care, adoption and the empty nest

Published 5:00 pm Friday, June 28, 2013

To the editor:

About a year ago our last child graduated from college, got his own place and began his life as an independent and self-sufficient adult.

After raising four kids, the two of us were quite ready for our newly found independence and the spontaneity that only an empty nest can bring. We had several grandkids and were able to see them regularly and they certainly were and are an important part of our “post kid” lives. Travel and other self-fulfilling opportunities moved to the forefront of our plans and we continue to enjoy those well-earned pleasures.

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One of our self-fulfilling enterprises has included a desire to give back and contribute to society in ways not previously practical when we were so involved with our careers and raising our kids. We explored options like the Peace Corps or other far away public service opportunities, but ultimately decided on something closer to home … something that might in some way benefit our local community or county.

While we were happy that our children were leading successful lives, we were still interested in helping other children or families to hopefully make it through difficult times on their own paths through life. We discovered that Polk County DSS manages foster care and adoption services, amongst their numerous other social service programs.

Here was something right in our local community that directly helps children within Polk County. As is almost always the case, the children themselves were not responsible for the circumstances they had found themselves in. We found that through foster care involvement we had a chance to not only give back but also to provide the love, stability and care that every child needs to hopefully tackle life’s twists and turns.

While our personal goal and intent has been to provide short or long-term foster care as needed, the option of adopting a child and committing to a longer term investment may be a possible option as well.

Through this process we have both come to understand that being an “empty nester” is not necessarily restricted to older baby boomers like ourselves. We have come to understand that “empty nesters” can also be younger adults or couples who possess the love and desire to help children live their lives in safe and loving households.

Possibilities exist to get involved with children of various ages either through becoming a foster care provider or an adoptive family. Thus far this new adventure for us has been both rewarding and worthwhile in the joy we have experienced and the role we hope we can play in the healthy development of children in need.

If your or someone you know might be interested in the Polk County Foster Care or Adoption Programs, please contact Polk County DSS at 828-894-2100. The initial training classes are set to begin in September 2013.

– article submitted by DSS social worker Jennifer Pittman for a current foster parent