When foster mom Emily picked up newborn Sophia she was told it was unlikely the baby would be reunited with her mother. Sophia’s mother struggled with addiction. Emily was pleasantly surprised when at the first virtual visit, Sophia’s mom eagerly joined the virtual meeting. The next visit was the same. And the next.

By the time visits were moved to in-person the two mothers had gotten to know each other pretty well.

At the park one day Sophia’s mom shared with Emily she didn’t know how she could be so kind. Wasn’t she angry at her for putting her baby in a dangerous situation? Emily assured her, her efforts to change her life around had not gone unnoticed, and it made it easy to support her every step of the way.

After six months in foster care, Sophia returned to her mother full time but Emily stayed a pillar of support just a phone call away.

“She sends me pictures,” she said. “She’ll call me and say ‘I know she’s teething, what can I give her?’ We’re the same age but I’m giving her advice I would give to adult children and she’s looking to me as a figure to model her parenting after.”

Emily was able to visit with Sophia and her mother over the holidays and on Sophia’s first birthday.

Emily’s support of Sophia’s biological mom is what’s called shared parenting. While it’s not always easy, it’s an important part of fostering and is good for the physical and mental health of the children involved.

“You have to be flexible,” Emily said. “If you are, you can’t imagine the rewards you’ll experience as a foster parent… I can’t imagine what it would be like to not get to see your child when you are trying to make amends and rectify the situation. I’ve gotten to witness this stage of life with several babies now and I know their parents haven’t. It’s a privilege.”

May is Foster Care Awareness Month. If you have ever considered fostering or adopting, Child Crisis Arizona is happy to walk with you through the process. The first step is to attend a Virtual Agency Meet & Greet and FAQ session. You can find the full schedule of the meetings at https://childcrisisaz.org/what-we-do/adoption-foster-care/.