Meet Family Works Foster Parents Adam and Vanessa! Their journey as a couple and family have led them to a parenting approach that embraces foster youth where they are at and helps them see their potential.
We Want To Show Kids They Can Have “Safe Spaces”
Vanessa and Adam started thinking about fostering when their son was in elementary school. Vanessa shared that there is a lot of poverty in their geographical area, and they realized that not all of their son’s schoolmates had the same opportunities as their children. They thought: “These kids could use a place to go.”
They wanted to show the children that they could have “safe spaces” – places to do homework or play, have a meal, have a trusted adult to talk to and help them with whatever they needed.
They set about creating that safe space in their home and have done so informally with youth in their community and more formally as Family Works treatment foster parents. They make a point to ask themselves what they can do to help kids feel safe.
Along the way they began to fine tune their own unique style of (foster) parenting…
When We Take Care Of Our Bodies, We Take Care of Our Minds
Vanesss and Adam have lots of life experiences that they believe have led them to be who they are today. They embrace a lifestyle that focuses on a youth’s physical, spiritual and emotional health.
Vanessa and Adam love the outdoors including hiking, running and camping. They have always involved their own children in these activities so knew that some of the best “talks” with kids can happen when you are out on a walk or hike.
Vanessa and Adam each bring their unique strengths to fostering. Vanessa shares that she has the ability to get to the heart of things or emotions, “I went through my own trauma. I understand. That was me too. I can relate to the ‘Why?’
If she knows that a child is struggling she may pull that child aside and ask if they want to go for a run/walk/hike together. Both she and Adam find that kids engage more while moving or participating in tasks than if just sitting down at the table. They especially find that being outdoors allows the child to be free to talk, cry, yell or sometimes just be silent.
Adam, on the other hand, finds he can connect with kids while incorporating his love for nature and teaching skills. He connects with kids while teaching them life skills, such as changing a tire or learning camping/outdoor survival skills. He loves to find little things in nature to share with them and show children how to fall in love with where they live.
Most weekends, Adam and Vanessa spend time finding a new place to explore in Wisconsin’s many nature areas. These outings focus on fun outdoor time with family and friends. In addition to their own children and foster children, they often have their nieces and nephews as well as friends and their children along for weekend adventures together.
Helping A Child Find Their Inner Peace
As their Family Works Social Worker, Kimberly Braun states, “I’ve seen the love and support that Adam and Vanessa provide for one another especially during difficult times. It’s refreshing to see their strength as a couple and as a family unit. They are a foster family that I can always count on.
Throughout my time with Adam and Vanessa, I’ve come to better understand and really appreciate their holistic approach to providing foster care. Adam and Vanessa encourage a child’s participation in all important activities to improve a child’s mental, emotional, physical, nutritional and spiritual well being.
For Adam and Vanessa their quest in providing foster care is about helping a child find their inner peace so they can tap into their internal strength and finally see their full potential.”
We Take It One Moment At A Time
Adam and Vanessa state their goal is to change the world one child at a time. They believe that they are building the foundation for the next generation.
This foundation building does come with challenges. When asked how they make it through these challenges, they note that they remind each other why they are doing this work. Adam also said they look to each other for support. “We make time for us.” He also credits their strong faith and supportive church family.
Vanessa adds that they have an incredible network of people who support their dream. They remind each other that they can’t be all things to every child. When a foster youth left their home under less than ideal circumstances, they were upset. But with some time and perspective, they recognize that “this young man being at our home was exactly where he needed to be at that moment”. Today they have a good relationship with this young man. They appreciate that “some part of what we do for a child or what we teach them- stays with them. Their successes become our successes.”
Advice For Other Foster Parents
When asked what advice they would offer to others considering fostering, they said, “Take it one child at a time. One story at a time…one moment at time. Our lives are made up from these little moments.”
Do you have a moment to learn more about becoming a foster parent?
If so please reach out to our social workers to learn more about becoming a Family Works foster parent.