Meet Family Works Foster Parent Lisa! Lisa is a single foster mother in the Platteville area. Lisa notes she was always drawn to children and animals. But she did not start out to be a foster parent…
The Journey Begins
Lisa married her teenage sweetheart; Gary and they had four children together. Eventually Lisa started her own daycare and did this for many years. It was her Grant County social worker who supervised her day care license that suggested that they consider fostering. Gary and Lisa pondered the idea and then began their fostering journey. They were Grant County foster parents for four years and eventually became licensed through the Special Needs Adoption Program to become adoptive parents. While waiting for an adoptive match they decided they really wanted to continue to foster and became licensed with Family Works. They have worked with both genders; a wide age range of youth and sibling sets and along the way were able to adopt one of their foster sons, fulfilling their dream of adoption. This all happened over the years as they raised their four children and eventually Lisa went back to “day care” but this time just for her grandchildren. She still watches her grandchildren after school. It is a delight for her to have her foster children and grandchildren be playmates.
A Journey Interrupted but Not Stopped
In 2017 Gary died suddenly of a heart attack. Lisa credits her children for being there for her during this dark time. “They are an amazing support for me, and I am very close to them.” She shared that it was also a blessing to have her foster children placed with her because she had to stick to a routine and keep moving for their sake. Their family is forever changed but stronger as they have walked this path together.
Backdrop to the Journey
It might be worth mentioning that Lisa is not just a mother, grandmother, foster mother, adoptive mother but also “mothers” quite a few others. Presently, Lisa reports that on their 38 acres she has 4 cows, 3 horses, 13 Jacob sheep, 7 chickens, 3 ducks, 70 geese, 3 dogs and 1 cat. That is a lot of mothering! Lisa also volunteers at her local human society and fosters dogs. She has found that as long as there is appropriate supervision, that the animals are very therapeutic for her foster children. Being able to care for and connect with an animal has incredible healing potential.
Support along the Way
Fostering can be challenging work and Lisa has learned that self-care is the answer. For Lisa this looks like a variety of things. She loves being with her animals, especially walking on her land with her dogs. She loves to keep learning, whether that is keeping up with foster care trends via a book or conference or taking a class at her local library about jam or pickle making. She also has key support people that she can go to and talk through situations. She often talks to fellow Family Works foster parent/ respite providers- as she believes that they understand things in a way those who do not do this work would not.
Lisa finds support and value in her foster youth’s treatment team members. Her Family Works Social Worker, Jack shared, “I have had the pleasure of working with Lisa for 3 years now. She is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of the children who have been placed with her. She is insightful, patient and applies trauma informed care with the children she cares for. She works hard to be part of the treatment team for her foster children. We have discussed the good and challenging parts of being a foster parent and working with the social service system. In this she has shared her wisdom and experience, which I appreciate.”
Lisa also continues to get support from Gary. She notes that in the past when Gary would come home from work at night, she would vent to him about her day and any problems. He would listen and remind her, “It is what it is. You just gotta work it through.” She still hears those gems and she and her children joke they need to write down all of Gary’s sayings and make a book!
Stewarding Other’s Journeys
Lisa wears many caregiver’s hats and has done this work for many years. She offers a few thoughts for those who foster or are considering fostering:
- When it comes to kids; patience, patience, patience.
- It (fostering) is such an unraveling. There is so much built up.
- Foster children did not ask for this.
- Fostering is a learning process.
- Just loving them is not enough.
- If you are considering fostering you have to be open minded and go into this with open eyes.
- Find someone who is doing this work/have them be your mentor.