12 Aug Samantha and Rob
Samantha and Rob are living the American Dream. They have two healthy children, a comfortable home, and a thriving family business. Their days are packed with 9-year-old Giselle’s gymnastics classes and soccer practices, and 7-year-old Dylan’s activities which look like a schedule for Olympic events. After he finishes his workday, Rob coaches his children’s teams as well as following University of Southern California basketball, sometimes traveling as far as Dallas to catch a game. Samantha loves to work out, especially CrossFit training. By anyone’s account, this family seems complete – and busy! Why then would they complicate matters by taking in a foster child?
“For me, it’s a calling,” says Samantha. “It’s a very good feeling to know you’re helping set up a vulnerable, innocent child for a better life.” Their 2-year-old foster son, who they call “Bear,” has been with the family for nearly his entire life, having been placed in the foster care system at just a few months old. Both her maternal instincts and psychology degree told Samantha that when children are able to connect with adults, they are better able to form healthy, stable relationships in the future. These relationships may be with biological parents after reunification, or they may be with an adoptive family. They are open to adopting Bear, but say they will accept any outcome that is in the boy’s best interest.
Bear was born prematurely and has needed extra medical care throughout his life. Samantha and Rob say they have taken the toddler to more than 200 doctor visits in his short life. “Yes, it is tiring, but he needs to be taken care of,” Samantha says, smiling at Bear in his high chair as he sits contentedly eating sliced grapes and Leapin’ Lemurs organic cereal. Rob adds, “Just look at his smile. He really is the best little baby.”
Samantha felt drawn to the idea of fostering and started to explore agencies in San Diego. She found Angels Foster Family Network online and its message immediately resonated with her. She liked the idea of one child or sibling set being fostered at a time so the children could get the attention they need and deserve. She also liked the idea of helping a baby or toddler since there is such a great need for care of children at this age.
Though it was Samantha who initiated researching fostering, Rob got on board quickly. He agreed to attend an information session at Angels and, before it was over, turned to Sam with a smile and said, “We can do this.”
Bear is the third placement for the family, and has been with them the longest so far. Their first baby was with them for one month; the second for two weeks. “The kids still talk about them,” says Samantha. “And they think of Bear as their brother. There is no jealousy and they don’t treat him any differently.”
“They do get attached,” says Samantha. “We all do, but that’s exactly what these babies need. And it’s important for our children to learn from a very young age that not everything is about them, and that it is important to give back, especially when we have been so fortunate.” The family says they appreciate when people ask questions about Bear and fostering and hope more consider it. Samantha explains, “A lot of people say they could never do it because they would get too attached” to children they would have to say goodbye to when they reunify with their biological parents. “But we get just as attached. It’s difficult, but also very rewarding. We just try to stay focused on the time they’re with us because otherwise we would miss out on that, and it’s totally worth it.”