May is National Foster Care Month – the perfect time to recognize and celebrate Families opening their hearts and homes to children in foster care.
Foster Parents like the Reids welcome children into their family temporarily while their biological families work to overcome obstacles and safely bring their children home.
The Reids have been foster parents with the Children’s Home Society of Florida for four years and have helped many teen boys and girls find the stability, love and support they need.
“During our foster parent training they asked the group to raise your hand if you were willing to accept teenagers and no one raised their hand,” said Valerie Reid. “I started to cry – big tears rolling down my face — because I felt like no one wanted to give these kids a chance. My husband handed me a tissue and we knew from that moment we would be the ones to step up.”
Just like they did while raising their six biological children, the Reids work with the teens in their home to learn important life skills like money management, healthy habits and personal responsibility including making the bed and following the rules.
“Someone had to show us how to get through life and now we’re just trying to pay that favor forward,” said Valerie. “All the time, blessing come our way so we try to pass them on.”
Mr. Reid also uses his green thumb to bond with the kids. The Reid’s garden is full of pineapple, avocados, oranges, lemons and even mangos. And all of the kids learn how to plant, grow and pick their own vegetables with a sense of pride and accomplishment.
“Being a foster parent to teens isn’t easy, but you can’t take the tough days personally,” says Valerie. “You just have to remind yourself that these kids have a lot on their plate. I don’t care how old they are — when kids are in our home, those are our babies. And when they cry, I cry. And when they need me, I’ll be there.”
The Reids are strong advocates for all of their children during their journey through foster care and far beyond when their kids leave their home.
“My hope for all of my children is for them to be able to have productive and fulfilling lives — not matter where life takes them, I hope they have all the tools they need to be successful. And when they leave my house I tell all of our children ‘You always have my number. Just call if you need us — no matter what — we’ll be there for you.”
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.