They’re the kind of foster family that stands out to licensing specialists like Donna Mueller because they were made to care for kids.
Read Donna’s blog post below to learn how the Carnes exemplify one of the 5 Ways Foster Parents Impact the Lives of Children: Reason to Be.
Older Kids are Kids, Too
Just three months after being licensed, Jeremy and Jessica Carnes took placement of an 11-year old boy. This was their first placement and they did not have any prior parenting experience. In fact, they had been married only four years when they took on the challenge of opening their home and hearts to an older child.
The Carnes were willing to adjust their lives and schedules in order to be there for him. The couple wanted to be a family and this young man was going to be a part of their family for as long as he needed them.
Jeremy is an Undergrad Teaching Assistant at UW-Milwaukee and is working on obtaining his Ph.D. in English Literature. Jessica is an Education Coordinator, Grant Writer, and Hiring Educator.
The couple knew they could meet the educational needs of a child. They also rose to the challenges of everyday life as they set goals, boundaries, and expectations. Things were going well and the family began to settle into a routine.
Fostering Enhanced their Reason to Be
Shortly thereafter, the boy’s sister needed placement. Though they hadn’t planned on an additional child in their home, they wanted to use the opportunity to bring the siblings back together.
In addition to understanding the need for the siblings to reconnect, the Carnes wanted them to maintain their relationships with their mother and other family members. The couple understood that this connection to their biological family was imperative for the children to thrive.
They were also in tune to the racial and cultural considerations of the young African American man and woman now in their home (the Carnes are Caucasian). Before this journey, the couple could not have guessed that parenting children of a different race than their own would be so challenging – or, so rewarding.
The Importance of Race and Culture
Although the Carnes live in a multi-cultural neighborhood, they knew their home would need to become more comfortable for the children. At school, the kids were teased for having white parents. A wedge was being driven into the family’s plan for a cohesive environment.
Rather than allowing race to define their success or failure, the Carnes’ reached out and asked for help. They began to learn things about the African American community. They celebrated the children’s culture and heritage.
They recently moved so that their foster daughter could return to her old school, where she felt accepted and welcome.
The couple uses their teaching experience to educate the children about the many contributions of African Americans in the community and American history in general. They empower the children to stand up and tell peers not to tell racial jokes or use language that belittles their cultures. The Carnes know that this is going to be a battle at times. They love the children and are ready to take on the role of parenting.
The children are now in need of a forever home and the Carnes wish to adopt them. They know being a transracial family may still come with some stares and questions from other people. The kids may even have identity issues as they get older. But, those things are nothing compared to the amount of love, patience, and empathy this family has for each other.
Together, the family has a sense of direction, purpose and resilience – something we call Reason to Be.
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Top 5 Ways Foster Parents Impact the Lives of Children
- Reason #1 – Safety
- Reason #2 – Stability
- Reason #3 – Relationships
- Reason #4 – Reason to Be
- Reason #5 – Future
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