Fostering The Medically Fragile

Julie and family have been fostering for 5 or 6 yrs now and have fostered special needs kids and medically fragile children. One of their first calls for placement was for a 16 yr old girl by the name of Faith. Faith suffered from severe seizures, infantile delay, in diapers, cerebral palsy. At the time Julie was told Faith had no use of her hands but within a year of being in Julie’s care she was playing on a key board. Julie and her family were in the process of adoption when she passed away. 


How did the Passing of this Child affect you? 


We thought about taking a break after Faith passed away, but decided we wanted to honor her by continuing. You have to understand the county did an emergency removal and literally had her in an ambulance and nobody wanted her. She had severe needs. However she was much more aware of her surroundings than anyone had given her credit for. She just bloomed and thrived when she was shown love! I discussed with my bio teens who still lived at home the thought of keeping her in our home when she began hospice care. They were almost mad i would even suggest putting her in a hospice home. None of us had really experienced someone passing in our home or had any idea of what that would look like. We simply knew she would be surrounded by the family that loved her. We all grieved her loss. That experience made us realize this is what we are meant to do.

In the beginning stages of becoming licensed did you start out wanting to foster medical fragile children?

My mother took care of a few special needs kids and i loved working with them when i was a teenager. My husband's brother is developmentally delayed. My husband had an active roll in taking care of his brother as they were growing up. We both felt we had the experience and enjoyed taking care of children with special needs.  We both just kind of knew these were the babies we wanted to foster.


Was your mom the reason for you becoming a foster parent? If so, What about her Fostering Journey inspired you? 

Yes, she was a big reason I went into foster care! I remember her satisfaction when taking a failure to thrive baby and watching the baby start to thrive and some of her other successes. My mother took care of children from the time i was in kindergarten until i was about 19 or 20. 


My mom did more respite care for children that were at risk than long term placements. We usually had 10-12 kids in our home at any given time. At that time crack cocaine was a popular drug of choice in California and she took care of several babies affected by addiction. She also had children suffering from neglect and abuse. I remember one little girl who had boiling water poured all over her. Im not sure exactly how the program worked, but it was a little different than what we think of as foster care. 

What is the best ways for foster parents to support Bio Parents if possible? 

I always approach bios with a friendly non-judgemental attitude and i tell them that upfront. I’m not here to judge anyone, I’m just here to take care of your children or child until you get on your feet and offer support anyway I can. It’s not my job to like or dislike a parent.  Their case plan is on them. If they dont do what they need to then it will be documented and affect their case. Whether I like them or not doesn’t affect anything at all so we might as well just treat eachother with respect. 

What are some reasons for those just starting out to consider Fostering Medically Fragile Children? What advice would you give those who are thinking about it ?

There is a need for homes that can take medical babies. It’s not hard at all and the hospital will train you same as if it was your biological baby you are bringing home. There aren’t any liability isuues as long as you follow the docs orders, give meds, and attend your appointments. Its extremely rewarding watching little babies learn and grow or do things the dr said they would never do. 

barry farmer