Veterans serving our country and community through foster care

0
18
WEBPawlowski family.jpg

As our nation recognizes the brave service of veterans of the armed forces, Angels Foster Family Network is adding to the list of contributions of our military this Veterans Day. The nonprofit organization, which supports families who open their homes to infants and toddlers who need stable, loving care, says that one of every four families who fosters with Angels is either active duty or veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

As our nation recognizes the brave service of veterans of the armed forces, Angels Foster Family Network is adding to the list of contributions of our military this Veterans Day. The nonprofit organization, which supports families who open their homes to infants and toddlers who need stable, loving care, says that one of every four families who fosters with Angels is either active duty or veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

“We value all foster parents, but when I see families with members who are active duty or veterans, I know they already have training in being adaptable and resourceful,” said Jeff Wiemann, Executive Director of Angels, and a veteran of the U.S. Navy. “They are usually extremely successful because of their flexibility and their deeply rooted sense of service.”

Take Andrew Hedman and Sandra Hazzard of Ramona. The couple first met as Marines serving in Afghanistan, and say they regularly had to “adapt and overcome” whatever challenges presented themselves overseas.

“It was all about flexibility and being able to change course fast in order to do what you had to do,” said Hazzard. “A lot like fostering.” she adds.

Like many parents, the couple wondered how fostering infants and toddlers would affect their biological children, but was pleased to see that their children were just as adaptable as they were.

“We explained to the children that (our foster son’s) family can’t take care of him right now so he’s going to stay with us, and we’re going to treat him like family until he’s ready to go back to his parents or relatives,” said Hedman with a bit of a shrug. “And yeah, it is really hard to say goodbye, but we can make such a huge impact on a child’s life so that makes it worth doing.”

Rebekah and Chris Pawlowski of Santee also see similarities between fostering and military service. Chris was a Chief in the Navy while Rebekah is a nurse in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Rady Children’s Hospital. They have three young biological children and are fostering an infant. “In the military, there are a lot of things we don’t have control over like when and where to move, and when things move they move quickly,” said Rebekah Pawlowski. “That directly relates to foster care where there are so many other players, like biological family and social workers, and you have to be flexible and adapt.”

She said when her family was stationed overseas, they would often have to say goodbye to loved ones on very short notice, which is often the case with foster care. “We love these children while they are in our homes and we don’t know when we have to say goodbye, but we feel excited to serve in this way, for our country and for these children.”

Active duty military are actively fostering at Angels Foster Family Network as well. Megan and Travis Borkowski live on Miramar Marine Corps Base where he is a Gunnery Sergeant and she is a stay-at-home mother of four children: two biological children, one they adopted after fostering, and an infant they are fostering through Angels. They say service became part of what motivated them, but initially they explored fostering simply as a way to grow their family

 “We wanted to adopt, but it was tough on a military income,” said Megan Borkowski. “I started reading blogs about fostering,” which addressed the concerns that both she and her husband had. “There was a real stigma around fostering,” said Travis Borkowski. “I always thought it was a horrible system, but when I went to the Angels information session, I saw that these are good people trying to do the right thing for these children.” 

Angels Foster Family Network is unique in that it places only infants and toddlers under five years old, and limits the number of foster children that can live with a family.

“Part of our mission is to ensure that young children have a stable environment so we ask foster parents to commit to a single child or sibling set for the duration of their stay in foster care,” said Wiemann. “This way, they receive the individual attention they need and deserve.”

The organization head doesn’t just talk the talk. His family has also fostered an infant and said it was one of the most rewarding experiences they have had as a family.

“Saying goodbye was difficult, but we have maintained a great relationship with the biological family and still remain an active part of (their foster son’s) life,” he said.

Megan Borkowski recalls that when their first Angels placement was reunified with her biological family, she was heartbroken. It was her six-year-old son, who propped her up and urged her continue fostering.

“He said there are so many other babies who need us,” she said with a smile.

Travis Borkowski added, “We’ve turned this into a really good team.”

To find out more about how to become foster parents – or support children – please visit www.angelsfoster.org.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here