Fostering Through the Pandemic

By Rachel Mar

Life throughout the pandemic has been a challenge to say the least.  Families all over the country turned their lives upside down to find a way to stay home far more than ever this past year or two.  Parents who normally work full time took on the role of teacher too.  Kids did their best adjusting to Zoom classes a few times a day.  Everyone thought about toilet paper way more than anyone ever should, and 34 million people in the United States got a virus that made it so they could not tell the difference between Ranch dressing and hot sauce.  Trust me, we tested it.

Resource parents and caring for foster kids never stopped.  We never stopped being needed.  We never stopped taking in kids that were seeking a safe home. 

For many of us, this pandemic pushed us out of our comfort zone.  Many children in foster care have Individual Education Plans or what is commonly referred to as an IEP, and taking children with extra needs surrounding academics during a time where you are their main source of learning can be a very daunting task.  An IEP is used for children in school who have a learning disability or who are very far behind academically for what is appropriate for their age.

In October of 2020, my husband and I said yes to taking a sibling set of five kids.  What I wasn’t aware of at the time though, was that three out of the five kids had IEPs. 

Working from home during the pandemic, having a household of 8 kids, 10 baby chicks, 2 dogs, and a husband also in school was chaotic to say the least.  I barely had any idea what an IEP was at the time.  I spent hours every single day trying to explain homework to our kids and teach them new concepts, and frankly, I was exhausted. 

With time, everything fell into place, and I was feeling more confident in my role as a parent figure and teacher.  Our Children’s Hope social worker was an all-star and helped explain the IEP process to us and helped advocate for different services needed for our kids.  The teachers were incredible with sending over materials to help our kids learn in a different way and taught us some different techniques for helping explain new concepts.  They also provided extra Zoom tutoring sessions that were very helpful with homework.

In the end, we made it.  We got those kids through the school year, and they did it beaming with pride. They even got to finish off the year in person with their classmates.

We grew closer as a family.  My husband and I both got to enjoy life as stay-at-home parents.  We were able to adopt our three boys from the comfort of our living room over a computer screen with our family and friends across the state and country present.  We all slowed down and truly enjoyed each other. 

I don’t regret a single “yes” even though it may have seemed a little crazy at the time or any experience we had through this past adventure of a year.  I hope that through the difficulties and pain you have faced through this unprecedented time that you also come out of this year with a new appreciation for those you love and for us as resource families, the new members of our family we welcome into our family on any given day and at any hour of the night.