Being a single parent can be challenging. Being a foster parent is hard. Put them together, and there’s a recipe for a lifestyle many people would never touch.
Not so for 25-year-old Kacie, who has fostered several children and has adopted two children through foster care.
“I never planned on adopting in the beginning,” Kacie said. “I wanted to be 30 and married before that happened, but I feel like God put them with me because they were supposed to be mine.”
As a young teen, Kacie befriended a girl who was in foster care and begged her own parents to foster, but the time wasn’t right for them. Since then, she has been determined to become a foster parent herself.
She bought her own home soon after graduating from college at age 21 and began the process for opening her home to children in foster care a year later when she learned that some children who attended her church were in care.
During an informational meeting hosted by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in August of 2013, Kacie committed to becoming a foster parent. Her home opened in March of 2014, and on that day, she received a 2-week-old infant who is now her 2-year-old son. She has since also adopted the 9-year-old girl who came to her a few months later. Now, that little girl is 11.
Three additional children are currently under her care, but over several years, she has watched others come and go.
“They’re exhausted when they get here. They’ve been sitting in DHS, terrified. They don’t know what they’re walking into, but they get comfortable with you. If I had been through half of what they’ve experienced, I’d be in the floor crying. I’m always amazed by how resilient they are.”
The children in her home now have been there for quite some time, but others have lived in her home for short periods. Some were emergency placements who stayed only a few hours.
“It’s always hard to watch them go home. It can be exciting, but you don’t always know what they’re going home to,” she said.
Often, there is a lot Kacie doesn’t know about the children she fosters. Where they’ve been, what’s happened to them and what they’ve seen remains a mystery. Other times, they come with novels detailing their entire lives. To Kacie, what she does or doesn’t know about her children’s pasts is less important when they come into her home than the experiences they can take with them when they leave.
“They do everything typical kids do while dealing with their pasts at the same time,” she said. “You wouldn’t know they’ve been through these things just by being around them.”
All of her children are involved in extracurricular activities like band, cheerleading and volleyball with the exception of one who prefers to just play with other children. They all attend school or daycare while Kacie works in elder care during the day.
The journey can be an emotional one, but she stays busy most of the time and has a solid support system in her friends and family. Much of her family helps with babysitting, having been through all of the screening required of them in order to do so.
Still, others question her about her age, marital status and how she and the children are able to function as a normal family.
“You just have to get past the stigma associated with the kids being in foster care and kind of pretend that they’re not. They’re just kids. We do what a typical family would do and go on about our business.”
That’s what she’ll continue to do in the future, as well. She’ll keep her home open to foster children for as long as she is allowed to be a foster parent. As for adopting any more children, it’s not in the plans.
“Then again, neither were the first two,” she said. “I feel like things have happened they way they did for a reason, so I’m not ruling it out.”