01 Jun It’s All About the Children
When Andrew Hedman and Sandra Hazzard first met as Marines serving in Afghanistan, they regularly had to “adapt and overcome” whatever challenges presented themselves. “It was all about flexibility and being able to change course fast in order to do what you had to do,” says Sandra.
Andrew and Sandra have two biological sons, six-year-old Ezzy and three-year-old Neo. “Jay,” who is close in age to Neo, has been with the family for nearly a year. He is their second placement with Angels Foster Family Network. “When Jay first came to us, we were told that he cried for hours before going to sleep,” says Andrew. “But on his first night he just watched Ezzy and Neo brush their teeth and get ready for bed, and he was like, ‘Oh, this is how we do it, okay.’ And that was it.”
That’s not to say fostering is smooth sailing all of the time. There are challenges, but far fewer than they expected. “One of the biggest misconceptions about fostering is that it will take all of your time, but we were both able to get our undergraduate degrees, and I finished my master’s and Sandra’s working on hers,” says Andrew. “People think fostering will be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be if you go through Angels,” offers Sandra. Andrew agrees. “Their motto is that it’s all about the children, and they want us to be focused on that. So families get plenty help dealing with the County, and the paperwork, and we get weekly visits (from a clinical case manager),” he says. Additionally, the nonprofit offers extensive training in caring for children who have been traumatized, and developing positive relationships with biological family members. Angels also provides playgroups and activities for those who want to participate.
Andrew and Sandra felt comfortable with the idea of fostering from the onset. Sandra found Angels online and liked its philosophy of focusing on one foster child (or sibling set) at a time. Having the children stay in one stable home throughout the duration of his or her stay in foster care also made sense. Still, they had some of the concerns most people grapple with: How fostering would affect their biological children, and how hard would it be to say goodbye. So far, both issues have been manageable. “We explain to the children that Jay’s family can’t take care of him right now so he’s going to stay with us, and we’re going to treat him like family until he’s ready to go back to his parents or relatives,” says Andrew with a bit of a shrug. “And yeah, it is really hard to say goodbye, but we can make such a huge impact on a child’s life, so that makes it worth doing.”
The couple says that one of the most helpful things Angels Foster Family Network offered them was a chance to hear from foster parents at an information session. Couples considering fostering were able to ask questions and get candid responses about the rewards and challenges of fostering. “It just resonated with us,” says Andrew. “We walked out of there feeling like this was going to be an upward battle, but not an impossible one.”
Angels welcomes single people, couples, and families to learn more about fostering by attending an information session. If serving as a foster parent isn’t the right fit for them, there are many other ways to support young children placed with Angels foster families, such as babysitting, donating baby supplies, or contributing to the general fund.