Raising Foster Children with My Biological Children
Kerry-Ann Ellington-Robinson has been a foster parent with CFCS for four years. She incorporates foster parenting into her busy daily life with grace and poise. Today, we want to share her experience of raising her biological children while also caring for youth in foster care, in her own words.
Becoming a mother was one of my greatest desires in life aside from having a serious relationship Jesus Christ. I had always joked around as a little girl that I was going to be a mother of a dozen children, and often pictured myself teaching a class full of children. When I met him, my husband Kurt had expressed that he would love to have a lot of children as well. What a perfect match, I thought – this thing could really come to pass! Unfortunately, we found ourselves in a long-distance relationship as husband and wife for a really long time. This was beyond our control. Then, I found out in my mid-twenties that I had polycystic ovary syndrome, a very common cause of infertility. I believe that my husband wanted biological children even more than I did, but I lived in America and he lived in the Jamaica. Needless to say, this was going to be a challenge.
I tried my best not to feel discouraged. I now had a great opportunity to merge my two greatest desires. I believed in a God that was able to do all things. He was the only person that could fulfill my desire of having children. I say “children” because I didn’t want to have just one child and neither did Kurt. We wanted at least four. At the age of 34 I got pregnant and a few months later gave birth to my beautiful twins, my son Kurt Jr. (KJ) and my daughter Khristiann. Kurt and I were proud parents. I strongly believe that children are a gift from God. I can see it no other way. All children are precious and innocent. God gave them parents to protect them at all costs. Although it is sad to say that this does not always happen.
As parents, Kurt and I had positioned ourselves to be parents to any child that God had sent our way. What better way to do that than to get involved with the foster care system! Our desires of becoming parents of many was about to come through. How exciting!
I play a lot of roles in life. I am a wife an aunt, a missionary, a Sunday school teacher, I am in charge of the youth in church and I am a mother. Of all my roles, I like being a mother best. Being a mother is being a teacher, an advocate and a counselor. It is a role to mold a tiny human being into what they need to become in this big world.
I first signed up for foster care when my twins were only three months old. Sure, people thought that I was a bit crazy. But I was ok with it and Kurt was ok with it. Best of all, I know I was made to do this! And the extra training from CFCS’s Intensive Foster Care program equipped me well for what was to come. I had also had previous training from all of my work experiences. I worked in a residential home for fourteen years with teens and young adults that were struggling with brain injuries and cognitive issues. I was trained in CPI, CPR and First Aid. I was also a medical assistant for ten years, working with children and all sorts of adults. I knew how things worked medically, and there was no failure in sight for me.
By the time I got my first foster placement I had nine-month-old babies. I thought to myself, great, they are almost walking and are a bit more independent. I first met my foster son at a cook out that I was hosting. I was not convinced that he was a match for me, and so did other opinionated people, mainly because of his behavior. But when I met him for a second time with just my immediate family around, by the end of that visit I knew something great was about to happen. He moved in two days later. I was a bit nervous because this was a different setting. My home was not a residential facility and that was different for me. I had a lot of questions in my head like, what if he broke my things? What if he ran away? What if he started a fire? Questions, questions, lots of questions!
I felt comfortable with the support team I had at CFCS and always felt assured that they would be there for me along the journey. My husband was very supportive as well. By the time I got my second foster placement I was up to two children at a time. We welcome every child who comes through our home with open arms, lots of love and best of all, lots of fun! They always blend in well with my family. My children look forward to meeting new friends, as they call them. We go to church together, we eat together and clean up together, we go on adventures endlessly and yes, we even cry together when necessary. After all, this is what we had signed up for.
I do not see these children as foster children because they do not come with a tag or labels. I see them as my children, and they are even allowed to call me mom and Kurt dad. If I should, could or would place a label on them it would say “handle with care”. It’s fun to go out as a blended family and have fun with confusing nosy people! I never regretted giving up my two full-time jobs to become a full-time mother raising my own children, and extending love and care to a few others who need it. I would encourage anyone to try foster parenting because it’s so rewarding and can make a big impact on our future presidents, doctors, lawyers, nurses, religious leaders and other caregivers. Kurt and I are extraordinary parents with an extraordinary family. Though challenges will come, we continue to write our extraordinary story knowing that we will forever be a part of so many children’s stories as they continue to grow and build their own legacy.
At CFCS, we are proud to work with families of all backgrounds and beliefs. We support the right to express one’s own ideas and beliefs freely, without harming other people. We collaborate with people from many different religious and non-religious backgrounds on a daily basis. In that spirit, we aim to represent the diverse perspectives we encounter in our work. We are proud to share Kerry-Ann’s words today, but as a state-funded institution, CFCS does not endorse or promote any religious beliefs or practices.