Allison and Clay Merritt became foster parents with Children’s Home Society of Florida in 2013 to provide stability, love and support to children who were temporarily separated from their biological families for their safety.
Foster parents like the Merritts provide critical support to helping children safely return home after their journey through foster care.
“All of the children that have come through our door these past eight years were successfully reunified with their biological families,” said Allison Merritt. “People always say the hardest part of fostering would be to give the children back and it is, but it’s also a very rewarding experience – seeing their parents work to overcome challenges and witnessing the entire family become stronger with your support.”
COVID-19 presented the Merritts with a new opportunity to step outside of their comfort zone and welcome older children and teens with more special needs including medical needs into their hearts and home.
“Just seeing our kids thrive is a gift. Each child has been so different — they have different interests and needs — but we have been given the opportunity to watch all of the kids blossom, succeed and grow,” said Allison.
As working parents, Allison and Clay believe that successful fostering is a true partnership all about balance and support.
“Fostering is a lot of team work and everyone wants what’s best for the family and the kids,” said Allison. “Having balance and an open mind are helpful throughout fostering and with CHS, we have a flexible team to support us.”
The adventurous Merritts also love to share experiences with their children.
“All of our kids have been able to travel out of state with us and its so fun to see them experience things they never have before like to see snow, an amusement park or the hills of Tennessee,” said Allison. “There are just so many positive moments that make fostering worthwhile.”
In honor of National Foster Care Month, Children’s Home Society of Florida aims to recognize the foster families making a difference throughout Florida and encourage more caring adults to consider fostering to support vulnerable children and their families during their greatest time of need.
For more information about becoming a foster parent please visithttp://chsfl.org/foster.