***Update: Unfortunately, as of June 2019, Inspiritus will no longer be offering foster services in Rome***
As Lola Belflower sits before the young man in the wheelchair, she holds up two shirts. The young man has trouble controlling his head, so he does not frequently make eye contact. The curvature of his spine twists his body. He cannot walk or take care of his most basic needs. He can only say a few words. His hands curl close to his chest.
“Daniel*, which one do you want to wear today?”
As she patiently waits, Daniel’s eyes focus first on one shirt, then on the other. He reaches out his hand and touches the blue one.
“Blue is his favorite color,” Lola says with a smile. “He’ll always pick blue if it’s one of the choices.”
Lola’s smile is one of the first things you notice when you visit her home. Her life is filled with joy caring for children with complex medical needs. It is not uncommon for Lola to care for more than one special needs child at a time. She was so excited to add one of those children to her family permanently through adoption in February. Doesn’t that sound daunting?
“Oh, some days are hard. I get up some mornings feeling sorry for myself, having a pity party. Then I walk in one of their rooms, and they smile, and all their love fills me. It’s like the whole world opens up,” says Lola as her smile fills the room with her joy.
“I have learned so much from them about coping with hard times. They give so much back to me. And every tiny achievement is like Christmas!” (Read more about Daniel below.)
Floyd County has nearly 400 children in Foster Care. Lola is doing what she can. With the most children in Foster Care and fewest homes available, the Rome-area could definitely use YOU.
Become a Foster Parent
If you’ve ever considered fostering or even just supporting other foster families, Inspiritus is here to provide the training and support need to follow through with that desire.
Foster parents will be provided:
- Thorough training program
- Nursing education and support
- Training coordination
- Case management
- Support from professional staff at all times
Inspiritus works in partnership with the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) to ensure the safety, permanency, and well-being of children (their top priority). Inspiritus provides Specialized Foster Care services for children including:
- Ages birth to 21 years
- Sibling groups and teens
- Medically fragile children
- Children with physical, mental, developmental, or behavioral disabilities
Through Inspiritus’ thorough training, every parent will have the confidence and preparation to meet the special needs of the children. Foster parents are supported by our professional staff at all times.
Ways You Can Help
Foster Parents take in children who are in DFCS custody full-time until they are able to return to their family or another plan is made. To become a foster parent, you must
- complete IMPACT pre=service training and LSG training
- pass a background and CPS check
- be at least 25 if single and 10 years older than the child you foster
- provide income verification
- compete a home study, etc.
Inspiritus will assist you through this process. The average approval time is 3-6 months.
Respite parents give regular Foster Parents a break by keeping their foster children overnight. These children are already placed in Inspiritus foster homes. To be approved as a respite parent, you must be fully approved as a foster parent.
Approved sitters watch foster children on an as needed basis. There is no reimbursement for this service, unless it is worked out with the foster family. To be approved as a sitter, you must fill out an application, pass a background check, CPS check, etc. Sitters cannot watch foster children in their own home. However, they can stay at the foster home or out in the community.
If you have a service, time, money, etc., that you would like to donate to Inspiritus and the children we serve, please let us know. Foster and Adoptive Parents always appreciate a hot meal, a night out, or just words of encouragement. Our children also could benefit from tutoring services, dance classes, music lessons, etc. We are always looking for donations to help with Foster Parent/Adoptive Appreciation events, Foster/Adoption training events, Christmas gifts, and funds for emergency placements. If you have a group or organization that would like to help support our children and families with a service project, please contact us. We would love to work with you!
Jennifer Wilson, Foster Care/Adoption Recruiter
Lola’s Story Continued…
Lola recalls how Daniel suddenly started speaking when he was 14 years old. “We figured he would never speak, but one day my husband walked into the room, and he called out, ‘Caw-caw!’ Our kids all called him Paw-paw, but that’s the closest Daniel could get. Now, if he’s awake at night, I’ll hear him in his room. First he’ll sort of grunt, but I try not to answer because it’s bed time. If I don’t say anything, he’ll say ‘Lola!’ If I still don’t say anything, he’ll say ‘Hello Lola!’ Then, I can’t help it, I’ll say, ‘OK, Daniel, I’m here, time to go to sleep’.”
Lola looks at her life like a map. She can look back and trace God’s hand, leading her from one point to the next. As a child, she was placed in a foster home and was later adopted by her foster parents, so she understands the struggles foster children face.
To those contemplating becoming foster parents, Lola says, “Jump in with both feet! Each child is a gift, and they need your help. But you need them, too. The rewards are exceedingly great.”
If you’re still not sure, take a look at these articles about Fostering:
5 Reasons you Should Become a Foster Parent
10 Reasons You Want to Become a Foster Parent
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.