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Swell Hearts

Foster Swell: Fragile Placements

Foster Swell: Fragile Placements

Foster Love. Foster Kindness. Foster Swell.

Two Types of Parents, by Marnie Bergstrom

Marnie and her husband, Jeremy, have been married nearly thirty years. They have three sons that are 27, 24 and 21. In 1999, Marnie was a surrogate for a friend and shares a son with her. The couple's two girls are 9 (adopted from Kyrgyzstan in 2008) and 7 (adopted from South Korea in 2009). She now has a 2 year old grandson and an 11 month old granddaughter. The Bergstroms have been fostering since 2009 and hosted twenty children, several long-term. They also use cloth diapers which makes us here at Swell Forever very happy!

There are two types of foster parents. Those that only wish to foster and those that foster to adopt. We thought that we were in the first category!

My name is Marnie. My husband and I have been foster parents for many years. After fostering children of all ages we decided that we were best suited to foster NAS (drug exposed) and medically fragile infants. Little did we know that not one, but two of these hard to place infants would steer our hearts toward adoption. In both instances there were no family members interested in becoming resource families or if they were interested, they weren't appropriate placements.

The first infant that we became interested in adopting came to us from the hospital at three weeks old. He had tremors and digestive issues from heroin exposure in utero. With "Mom" in and out of jail and no relatives stepping up, we knew he needed us. His paternal grandmother came forward in the eleventh hour.

The second time, we had another NAS baby with severe attachment issues due to delayed optical development. My husband had a job transfer and we were forced to move our little guy to another placement while we completed our interstate compact. Unfortunately, the attorneys fought the out of state placement and he was placed in a legal risk home within that state.

I will not lie. We were heart broken each time. In both situations, we have been allowed to maintain a relationship which has been incredible. It would have been harder if we hadn't been able to stay in touch. The saving grace is always knowing that when a placement leaves us, as hard as it may be, we know that they are going to a loving and safe environment. 

Advice from Marnie:

To anyone considering foster care, whether to just foster or foster to adopt, please keep your heart open. The children that you will be asked to care for need you to love them and provide a safe environment for them. They will come with a team and a plan. You may not like that plan but you need to understand that the team has to make sure that everyone's rights are considered. If the plan is reunification, try to work with the family if you are allowed. It will make the transition easier for the child and for you in the long run. It's okay to bond with the child and it is natural to grieve if their ultimate placement is not with you. Know that you have helped to make their little lives better for the time you had with them.

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