Two students share importance of foster care

The month of May is National Foster Care Month. Foster care affects many people in many different shapes and forms.

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Two students share importance of foster care

Jamie Fetter and Cameron

Jamie Fetter and Cameron

Jamie Fetter and Cameron

Jamie Fetter and Cameron

Jocelyn Fetter, Associate Editor

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In celebration of foster care month, two students shared their stories.

Cameron Fields is a sophomore at Altoona High. Fields was adopted by Shannon and Robert Dean in 2017.

How has an experience like this helped you shape your character? Going through the process of foster care and adoption definitely made me realize that there are people out there that care for me. There is so much out there in this world that I’m missing, and I can do a lot that most people don’t get to do because of these people. The most rewarding part is having a family, being able to eat, sleep in my own bed, going on vacations and having a fun time.

What is one word of advice you could give to someone who is going through the process of foster care into adoption?  Stay positive, life will only get better if you stay positive. Always keep hope and never give up.

What is the biggest thing you wish people knew about foster care? Foster care is everywhere. If you end up in foster care, don’t be so down on yourself, it’s not a negative thing. In foster care, there is always going to be someone who cares for you.

Shannon Dean is Field’s adoptive mother. She adopted Fields in 2017.

How long have you been a foster parent, and how many children have you fostered or adopted? Foster for four years, had 17 fosters and four adopted.

What is the most important part of being a foster parent? Providing stability for children that really need it the most.

What is the most rewarding part of being a foster parent? When I get to check in on them at night, and I know that they’re safe, fed and loved.

What is a word of advice you would give to other foster parents just starting out? No child is going to perfectly fit in your family; you both need to give a little.

What is a word of advice you would give to others who don’t know whether or not they want to be foster parents? Pray about it, and make sure you’re ready to give up your life. These children require a lot of time and love, so you must have enough to give.

What is the hardest part of being a foster parent? Trying to fix their broken-ness, because I’m a fixer, I always want to fix everything.

What is something that has happened to you that has become a great memory that you may not have had if you weren’t a foster parent? Family vacations with all the kids that have entered our family.

What’s something you wish the public would know about being a foster parent or adopting children? There are so many kids out there that need a safe home.

May is National Foster Care month, what does that mean to you? I think it brings awareness to people that aren’t aware about adopting. There’s a lot of people that don’t think about it.

When did you know you wanted to be a foster parent, and why? Shortly after Bob and I got married, we found out we couldn’t have kids. We knew we had more love to give, so somehow we found Bair and started there. It was a true calling from god. 

Cameron Fields and his family.

Jamie Fetter and Cameron

Jamie Fetter is a program director at the Altoona Bair Foundation office. She helps to oversee the foster care and kinship care, train families and staff and help them in anyway possible.

What is the Bair foundation? Non-profit Christian based organization who certify foster parents, so we have homes for the kids who need them.

What is something you wish more people knew about foster care and adoption? The need for foster homes and parents. People don’t realize how many kids need homes and need good families. There’s so many people who don’t even know what our office is nor where it is located.

What sets your line of work apart from other 9-5 jobs? This job is not done when you walk out of this office. This job weighs on your heart and mind, and you worry constantly about the kiddos that come in and out and if they’re safe, healthy, being taken care of properly, etc.

How does this job impact your personal life? It definitely makes you a stronger person, and it makes you appreciate your family and the time you have with them.

What is the most important part of your job? Making sure that there are always good safe homes for these kids that will never run out of love and nurturing.

What is the most important thing about being a foster parent, and wanting to adopt children? When you make the commitment of taking a placement, it’s not always going to be easy. They have to have the want to be foster parent and not give up on these children. These children need a supportive family the most when they enter their home, and these families need to be willing to stick with these children through it all.

What’s a common misconception about foster care and adoption? A lot of people think that when they take a placement, that the end goal is going to be adoption, and it’s not always like that. Some people also like to stereotype foster parents and say they’re only in it for the money, and I can proudly say we don’t have any of those families.

What is the best part about being in this line of work? Getting to see some of these kids go through adoptions, sometimes watching them be reunified with their parents, all the happy endings. It’s also rewarding to work with people who have the same mindsets and goals.

Has this job impacted the way you think about your own family? It makes me appreciate my kids even more, and it makes me want to give them a tighter squeeze each and every time I hug them.

May is National Foster Care month, what does that mean to you? It’s important; we always wear our pins to remind people. It sparks the question when in public of what the pin is for, and it gives us an excuse to inform them about it.

How is Bair significant in making transitions for families? All the staff offers extra support and guidance for every kid and family when they need it. We have so many wonderful foster parents who have teamed up and help each other along the way too.

How can people who aren’t involved with Foster care in any way help to contribute? Donations always, sometimes when the kids come in they only have the clothing that’s on their back. So dropping off clothing, gift cards, anything that can help that way or also offering emotional support or even babysitting for families always helps too.

Why should the people reading this story who aren’t in foster care, or associated with it, care? There’s kids in your schools and neighborhoods who are in foster care, and people fail to realize the significance in that. People should always care about this because it’s something that’s not going to go away, and it’s everywhere, but it’s not a bad thing.

102,000 Children and teens are waiting to be adopted in the U.S.

20% of children in the U.S. wait 5 years or more for adoption.  

30,000 Teenagers will “age out” (they are expected to live independently and be responsible
for their own expenses) of the U.S. foster care system without being adopted.