Always making room for one more
Foster parenting rewarding for entire family
According to data from the North Dakota Department of Human Services, there were more than 2,000 children placed in foster care throughout the state in 2009. Loving foster families who take on the responsibilities of caring for these children are finding it to be possibly the toughest yet most rewarding job they have ever had. The Ron and Faith Nord family of rural Adams is one of those families.Foster care is 24-hour care for children whose parents are unable, neglect or refuse to provide for their children’s needs. It includes providing food, clothing, shelter, security, safety, guidance and comfort.
The Nords have been providing foster care since 1997 when the child of a family member was placed in their home. That child is their oldest son Andrew, now 25, who they adopted at the age of 12 when his birth parents gave up their parental rights. They became a licensed foster family through Walsh County Social Services in 1999 and before that time provided foster care for other counties and respite care for foster families.
Ron and Faith have not kept records of how many children have been placed in their home since 1999, but have cared for children of all ages – short-term and long-term. There are times when children are with them for just a few days while others are a part of their family for more than a year.
“One year, from May through August we had 12 children come through our house,” Faith said. “We have also had the same child placed in our home three times.”
All this activity often requires some juggling for Ron, Faith and their teenage children, Aaron, Katrina and Michael. Children placed in Ron and Faith’s care also become a part of a large extended family – grandparents, aunts and uncles who become a part of their lives at family celebrations.
“Some of these children come into our home and it is the first time they have known what a real family is like,” Faith commented.
There are many challenges a foster family faces when children are placed in their homes. It is necessary for them to not only be parents, but also school teacher and counselor. Foster parents often have to find daycare for young children at a moment’s notice, have adequate clothing on hand, as well as food and diapers for infants.
“Children are sometimes brought to our house with nothing more than a small bag with a shirt or two,” Ron said. “We have kept clothing from our kids of all sizes and keep diapers and wipes on hand at all times.”
According to Ron and Faith, the goal of foster families is to reunite the children with their families. They attend team plan meetings every three months for the children in their care along with Northeast Human Services, Walsh County Social Services, the parents and any counselors that may be involved. Their home has to meet certain specifications and they complete continuing training every year.
The Nord children don’t mind sharing their parents with the other children most of the time. In fact, at one time when Ron and Faith were contemplating ending their tenure as foster parents, their youngest son Michael, who has gladly given up his bed and slept on the couch to accommodate his foster siblings, changed their minds.
“A few years ago we considered giving up foster parenting,” Faith said. “Michael felt we shouldn’t give it up because there were children out there who needed us.”
Saying goodbye to the children when they leave to go back to their parents is often difficult. For Katrina that is especially true when infants are placed in their home. The family is often remembered years later by children they have cared for and Katrina has been contacted by one of her short term foster siblings on Facebook.