The Williams Family
Making the decision to become foster parents was a decision that our family made after feeling the tug on our hearts to children that were in the foster system and after spending time with another family that fostered children. This family opened our eyes to the realities of children and family’s needs that were involved with the foster care. Before receiving our foster parenting license my husband and I visited 2 placement agencies. One of the agencies we visited on 2 occasions. After each visit, we walked away feeling that we were not supposed to become licensed with those agencies. We struggled with this feeling because our initial thought was, it is about the child being placed with us and not so much about the agency. We were somewhat right, but not completely.
A few days after visiting the last agency we looked online to find other child placement agencies and discovered Special Kids Special Families. We visited the (SKSF) office and felt an immediate sense of peace. After speaking with the receptionist, a few of the office staff and reading the companies mission statement we knew that we wanted to become licensed through Special Kids Special Families. Our initial introduction to the company was through a meet and greet with Ms. Sandra Dunlap, Special Kids Special Family’s Child Placement Director. Although it was her job to get a feel for our potential as foster parents, her visit with us solidified our decision to become a fostering family. Even though there seemed to be an endless amount of paperwork, Ms. Dunlap and her team made the licensing process as easy as possible. The trainer accommodated our schedules for the in-class trainings and completed other trainings in our home. This helped us immensely because we did have to take a lot of time away from our children.
Shortly after receiving our foster parenting license we opened our home to our first placement. Ms. Dunlap and her Home Supervisor Mr. Jimmy Browder were instrumental in helping to navigate through all of the new arrival paperwork, child specific training, to include helping the child to get settled and feel welcomed in our home. This was achieved at first through daily phone calls, weekly visits, phone calls, text and even assistance with accompanying me to doctor appointments with the very fragile child in our care. Mr. Browder and Ms. Dunlap not only showed concern for the child in our care but followed up with us to make sure that our family was okay.
Almost a year later, we have made the decision to adopt the child that came into our home. Ms. Dunlap, Mr. Browder and now Ms. Kimberly Neilson have been there every step of the way through the adoption process. They have been not only strong advocates on our behalf but on our potential adoptive child’s behalf as well. Our family is so thankful for Special Kids Special Families as a company. We have grown not only in the size of our family but in our capacity to loves other families and children beyond a level that we knew could be possible. We look forward to continuing to foster and being a part of the SKSF organization.
Jason and Sheila Williams
The Martinez Family
Martinez children – Matt, JB and their adopted son, Tristan (centered)
“We have been foster/adoption parents for the past 14 years and have cared for over 30 children during this time. We no longer take ‘the good life’ for granted as we have seen what some of our kids have been living through.
Our philosophy is to do what we can for the children while they are with us, giving them what they need.”
Barb and Genaro Martinez
Courtney and Shawnee
by Linda Ellegard, Executive Director
These young ladies contacted us and stated that they wished to foster children. They are familiar with Special Kids Special Families because their adoptive parents are also foster parents for the agency. For Courtney, being a foster parent has been her life dream. For Shawnee, fostering means that the skills she learned in helping her adoptive parents to care for special needs children in her adoptive home could be put into action.
While completing their home study and learning about each of their life stories; this was when they became the “teacher” to me.
Courtney was removed from her mother because she was often left alone while she was just a baby. She had been in 12 prior foster placements before she came to her adoptive family at the age of 3. She remembers that she refused to eat and had developed her own language and that no one else was able to understand her. Foster parents didn’t know what to do with her. She also remembers when Shawnee came into the foster home, and how happy she was to have her foster sister.
Shawnee, also was only about three years old when she was placed in her adoptive home. She also remembers her mother being gone frequently. She and her brother were malnourished, she remembers eating Taco Bell wrappers, because they had remnants of food on them. She also remembers her first night in the foster home, and just how good the mattress and clean sheets felt. She felt safe.
This is where nurture and nature contributed to two young women turning out to be such competent, caring and capable women. No doubt they each possess inner strengths. When their foster home adopted them, they gained a strong family relationship. They also had a loving and stable foster home, taking the modeling and words of wisdom from their adoptive parents and are using them to help other children.
As a foster care agency, we are blessed to have Courtney and Shawnee as foster parents. They have cared for a variety of children, including children with special needs. They are making a difference.