May is Foster Care Awareness Month. In 2018 Child Crisis Arizona’s licensed foster homes provided nearly 78,000 nights of safe sleep for hundreds of children. We asked Ricky, a foster parent with Child Crisis Arizona, about his experience.

What inspired you to take not one but two sibling groups?

We never intended to adopt 5 children, let alone 5 boys. But when we started this journey we planned to do our best to keep siblings together. We were on the path to adoption with the first two children we had fostered and were asked to take the youngest of a sibling set of 3 because we knew the family that had one of the other children. Michael and I said from the very first day we were asked that we would take all three of them. Over time we were asked if we would be willing to take the other boys so they could be together. Of course, we said yes!

What are the challenges? How difficult are the obstacles to overcome?

Challenges come in many forms. One of the biggest is the lack of understanding the outside world has on the impact of trauma on a child’s development. The experiences that lead children to foster care are with them every single day and yet the outside world expects them to function as a child raised in a typical home. While in many situations they do and do so quite well. There are others in which a child in foster care needs more empathy and understanding. As a foster care provider, it can be difficult to continuously educate person after person of the impacts trauma can have on a child. Another challenge is managing your own expectations on what children should be and do. As a foster or adoptive parent many times you have to get over yourself. What you are doing is bigger than you. A child’s life is in your hands. Navigating this journey has made us better, more reflective, and empathetic people.

What is your favorite thing to do with your children?

Having dinner at the table as a family, with 5 boys ages 12-19 and now a baby (sibling to the sibling set of 3) time is precious. Dinner together is an opportunity to catch up on what is going on in their lives.

Any great stories? Moments of joy?

There are so many memorable moments, but the two that stick out are when my now 19 years old graduated high school. He was 14 when he moved in with us, and he wasn’t sure he could do it. The second is when we decided to foster the baby we now have. Seeing each of my boys be able to show him empathy and nurturing him the way a baby should be nurtured showed me somewhere along the way we are doing something right.

The first step toward becoming a foster parent is to attend an orientation. For the next orientation date visit our Foster and Adoption page.