Meet Doug!

Share a little bit about your family.

I am a single foster dad. I have been fostering for 15 years. Ever since I was kid I have loved helping other kids. I grew up with a lot of siblings and knew when I was older, I wanted to give kids without families a family like I have. I have adopted three teenage boys. Two of them are in their young 20s and one is 17. I am continuing to provide foster care, adoption and respite services in Prescott Valley, Arizona.

How long have you been fostering?

I have been a licensed foster parent for 15 years.  During this time, I adopted three sons and provided Therapeutic Foster Care. With only a 17-year-old left at home, my house is too quiet and I am in the process of bringing in an adoptive teen that most assuredly will change my life.

What made you want to become foster parents?

The memory that stands out was traveling to see one of my summer camper’s high school graduations. As I interacted with his family, I learned that an extra teen stayed in the home due to his family situation. The camper’s family took him in and have given him a place to stay. I knew I wanted to do the same for other boys.

What has been the hardest part about fostering? 

Disruptions are hard, especially when it involves a strong bond. The incident that comes to my mind involved me crying and feeling unable to move. I wished I could have gotten up to say bye and give one more hug. Years later, we were able to reconnect and I learned that he knew I cared for him.

Watching a teen become discouraged after finding out the truth about their family member’s progress.  As we sat with the speaker on the cell phone, the truth came out from a team member and I witnessed the physical and emotional change in him.  It broke my heart.

When a child’s history continues to surface in cycles, even after adoption.

What has been the sweetest part about fostering? 

Unexpected bonds with placements that left the home. We traveled ten hours to visit one youth. I was surprised by a graduation and wedding invitation from another. Driving about one hour one or two times a month, when able, so I could spend time with another young man, whom I believe take great pleasure in breaking my budget. Then, there is the unofficial son who calls when things are well and not so good because he knows I am available. Now he gives me great motivation to stay in touch via a grandson. Finally, being referred to as “My Dad” or “My Doug” in an introduction…

What advice would you share with others who are considering becoming foster parents?

Realize that people will have good intentions and may discourage you because they love you. Embrace that love, but if you are called, embrace it with eyes wide open. Sometimes, taking in a particular youth is walking in faith despite worries and concerns…

I read books and listened to radio broadcasts such as Focus on the Family, about fostering and adoption stories. I continued finding training related to trauma and youth experiences. During my journey, I learned more and more about myself. Believe it or not, fostering and adopting helps my faith. There are times when the only thing I can do is ask God for help.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Your life will never be the same. It’s tough raising young men and women, but it’s tougher to raise young men and women with a family history that I hope you and your kids never experience. Don’t put down the youth’s family, be honest and age-appropriate. Be patient with the bio-family, it may take several tries before you start seeing changes. If they lash out, show grace and mercy. The events leading to removal may be tough on them as well.