A Foster Care Family Affair in Northern Illinois

Solange and her husband, who live in Northern Illinois, had five biological children when they agreed to provide foster care for a relative. After that experience, they decided to become licensed foster parents six years ago. Since then, they have welcomed babies, young children, and teenagers into their home.

“For us, it’s not just about foster parenting: we’re a foster family,” said Solange. “I don’t think my husband and I could do this without our biological children being open to having other children come and go. Often our foster children connect with our biological children before they connect with us.”

If one fosters children the “right way,” she said, it can be hard to watch children return to their homes, because foster families become emotionally attached to children in their care, while knowing the goal of foster care through LSSI is the safe return home of a child whenever possible.

“We are passionate about working with a child’s family,” said Solange. “We want to be that foster family that helps a child get home. We engage in shared parenting and want to involve their families as much as we can.”

Many of the children whom Solange’s family has fostered stay in touch long beyond their time in Solange’s home. One boy had such a good relationship with her family that he asked to return to her family when he had to go back into foster care.

“We have been able to see most children in our care return home safely,” said Solange. “Our intention was never to adopt but to be a true foster family. As it happens, we are going to adopt a child that is unable to return home, though we hadn’t originally planned for that.”

Last year, LSSI served 2,729 children through foster care placements. During the pandemic, LSSI has seen unprecedented challenges in its ability to care for and interact with clients, including children in foster care, while following safety guidelines. The need remains high for children to be placed in foster care, and available placements for children age 8 and older have been lagging behind demand.

“There is a need right now for foster parents to care for children of every age, but especially older children above age eight and teens,” said Solange. “We saw a need and couldn’t ignore it. We hope to do this indefinitely.”