There's no doubt for Margaret Adamson of Port Chester that becoming a foster parent has permanently changed her life for the better.
Having been a Westchester County foster parent for more than five years, Adamson, a nurse technician, has adopted two of the children who first came to her as foster kids, Journey, 5, and Faith, 4.
"It's the greatest thing you could ever do for such a little person," said Adamson, noting that she tries to keep in touch with the children - and families - she has helped as foster parents. "Even if you have kids, being a foster parent is a great thing."
Adamson and her daughters are among the families saluted by Westchester County over this Presidents Day weekend. The county, in conjunction with an advertising partner for the Westchester bus system, Titan, has provided more than 100 tickets so foster kids could see performances of the Royal Hanneford Circus at the Westchester County Center in White Plains.
Adamson, Journey and Faith, got a chance on Friday to meet circus clowns, Ringmaster Billy Martin and even one of the circus' elephants, Viola.
Westchester County Department of Social Services Commission Kevin McGuire said more than 550 children are currently in foster care in Westchester.
Adamson said she became a foster parent after talking to a friend who had been a foster parent for many years. Adamson, who was unable to have children of her own, said she took classes required for becoming a foster parent and after a few months found herself with her first foster child.
She said she found the experience so rewarding it led her to the decision to adopt Journey and Faith.
What is foster care?
Foster care is temporary care for children who are unable to live with their birth families.
Who are the children in care?
- Foster children represent all ethnic groups and may be infants through teenagers.
- When brothers and sisters come into care, the county tries to place them together.
- Some children may have handicapping conditions and need special care.
- Teenage mothers also need homes for themselves and their children.
- Foster children, like all children, need love, affection and guidance.
What foster parents do
A foster parent is someone who can provide temporary care and love for children who are unable to live with their birth families. A foster parent should be someone who:
- wants to make a difference in the life of a child
- can make room in their home and heart for children who need temporary care
- is flexible and capable of handling stressful situations
- can work as a member of a team with social workers and other professionals
- can help prepare a child for return to their birth family or to be adopted
Who can become a foster parent
You can apply to become a foster parent if you:
- are at least 21 years old. There is no upper age limit
- are married, single, or living with a partner
- have sufficient income to meet your own family’s needs
- are able to provide each child with his/her own bed although children can share a bedroom
Foster parent obligations and training
To become a foster parent with the Westchester County Department of Social Services, you will need to:
- attend an orientation session
- attend our training classes
- participate in a home study
- complete an application, a child abuse clearance form, and some other paper work
- provide personal references and current medical reports
How to start the process:
To begin the foster care process or to receive more information, call the United Way at 211 or (800) 899-1479 or answer the following questions and a United Way's 2-1-1 Representative will contact you.
Click here to check out profiles of children in Westchester County who need adoptive families.