At 16 years old, Emily’s journey into foster care began when she started babysitting for a family with biological, adopted, and foster children. This experience showed Emily all the beautiful, messy parts of fostering and sparked her passion for fostering. Emily, her husband, Bennett, and their biological son, Oliver, began their fostering journey when Oliver was 2 years old. First came the placement of two toddlers, leading to the parenting of virtual triplets. Later, they welcomed “Baby K,” who they are now in the process of adopting. While they wait for K’s case to close, they have found joy in opening their home to respite care for various kids in the toddler to preteen stage. Emily says, “Each and every child who has entered our home, whether for one night or three years, has made a permanent mark on our hearts. We are also immensely grateful to still have regular contact with the twins we fostered as well as K’s biological family, and are hopeful that they will all always be a part of our extended family.”

Emily, on fostering and having a relationship with the biological family/reunification:

“I began fostering because of my deep love for children, but I will continue fostering because I fell in love with the biological parents as well and have grown a surprisingly strong desire to care for them as well as the children temporarily or permanently in my home. My most impactful moment was returning the twins to their mother. After I buckled the boys in their mom’s car and gave them big kisses, I gave their mom a BIG hug. When the boys asked why we were hugging, I told them that we loved each other and both loved them. Then their mom replied that she and I are now a team. And while this was the goodbye I had been dreading, I was reminded that I had also been praying for this goodbye and for the start of their restored family and our continued partnership.”

What is something one of your foster kids has taught you?

“Parenting K, especially after experiencing a reunification, has taught me to slow down and be present in the moment. K is teaching me to embrace all the moments. I’m learning to say yes to the post-bedtime snuggles and the extra hugs and double hi-fives before leaving for work, and I slow down much more for banana and cheese stick-related meltdowns than I’m naturally inclined to do. When the future is unknown, it provides the space to really lean into the current moments.”

What do you think you need to be a successful foster parent?

“I believe one of the greatest success factors for foster parents is creating a community of people who can support you in different ways. It’s been vital for my journey to walk alongside other foster parents by making individual connections and really leaning into our Foster the Family Sacramento support group. I also have incredible friends and neighbors who don’t foster but show up for us when we receive new placements or have tough seasons. Foster parents often deal with more appointments than a typical parent, so I’ve also seen that successful foster parents have reliable family or friends who are willing to be background checked to show up as regularly present, safe adults who can help in more significant ways. Widen your circle intentionally.”

Emily’s advice to current and/or future foster/resource parents:

“Don’t be afraid of the children’s biological family. There is always a way to move towards them in love. Start with a note or a back-and-forth journal at visits. Set up a Family Album account to share pictures and videos or create a Google Voice account if you aren’t ready to share your number yet. Send physical photos and art with the kids to their visits. One of the best ways to love the kids in your care is to love their biological families. Start small and let the love grow and blossom.”

Emily’s fostering journey is a testament to the profound impact one family can have on the lives of children in foster care. From her initial role as a babysitter to becoming a dedicated resource parent, Emily’s story is a testament to the importance of community and empathy in the fostering process. Through her family’s compassion and openness, they have not only provided a loving home for children in need but they have also forged meaningful connections with their biological families. For those contemplating fostering, we hope Emily’s story encourages you to take that step. Reach out to us to begin your fostering journey and to make a difference in the lives of children and youth in need.

Kaitlin Earnest, Contributor


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