Meet Sheri!

Share a little bit about your family.

I have one daughter, two sons, a daughter-in-law, three grandsons and two foster baby girls. My daughter Ashleigh is 30 years old and has two adopted boys, both are three year olds that have been in our care since they were born. My son Cole and daughter-in-law Melissa have one son who is 18 months old. My youngest, Micah is three years old who I adopted when he was a year old. He also came to me at two days old.  I raised my adult kids by myself for the most part. We are a very close family. We have been through a lot in our lives, but with God and my children they always kept me going, even when I didn’t feel I could…

How long have you been fostering?

I have been licensed since December 2017. I currently have my 17th placement, a preemie baby girl and another baby girl who is now a year old that I have had since she was a month old.

What made you want to become foster parents?

… I was working for an agency managing a supervised visitation and parent aide program and was able to see first hand the need and decided I really wanted to move forward with becoming licensed. My daughter was in agreement and has been by my side ever since. I knew I couldn’t change all, but I really wanted to change the way foster parents get looked at and I wanted to change the stigma that follows. I also wanted to be an example to other foster parents. Working in the field I saw so many foster homes who were not doing it for the right reasons, and I wanted to change that starting with one child and bio family at a time… I prayed and asked God if this is what he wanted me to do…He opened the door and has not shut it. He didn’t say it would be easy. He just said to do it.

What has been the hardest part about fostering? 

The hardest part of fostering is not taking things personally and being treated like we are just “foster parents” who need to understand our “role.” Advocating for a child can be challenging when our system is advocating for the parents and reunifying, even when we know in our hearts it is still not safe for the child. It is difficult when we become so bonded and attached to a child that when the time comes for them to leave and be reunified or placed elsewhere, we are supposed to remember that this is what we signed up for. I support reunification when a parent has gone above and beyond what is required of them, not just for DCS purposes but for a lifetime. If the parent is not working or they are being hateful, and I am told the parents have rights, I struggle with supporting them. It is not our right to be a parent; it is a privilege.

Recently the hardest thing about fostering on a personal level, is feeling disconnected, isolated and left out from my friends and family. Everyone has busy lives and most my age have children that are grown and out of the house so making plans with someone who has small ones is often not on the agenda.

What has been the sweetest part about fostering? 

I like to call myself a “baby whisperer,” not in a conceited way. Every infant we have taken in has been drug and alcohol exposed. Seeing them come into care so very fragile, with withdrawals that cause them to not control their little bodies, to loving and getting them through that and then seeing the progress they make.

When they call me “MeMe” for the first time and recognize that we are their people. Not many, but I have had a few parents that are appreciative, and inviting them into the family so they feel like they have someone to turn to when they are struggling is rewarding and humbling.

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

I tell anyone who is questioning fostering that it is the hardest and best thing we can do. To have an open mind, a caring heart and to do our best to not judge. No matter what happens or how frustrating the journey can be, God chose us for a reason. We always need to make it about the child and not about us. A child should not have to choose between a DCS worker, a bio parent or a foster parent, and we should never make a child feel like they must choose. But the biggest piece of advice is to pray. Always pray for God’s will for that child’s life, even when it is difficult to pray and not be selfish. I was taught a long time ago by a Pastor/Counselor to pray for God to close the door no man can open and open the door no man can close. Each child that I have said yes to was already chosen by God to be in our home. It is not an accident. Whether we bond and attach or if we struggle with that attachment to a child, they are here to teach us a lesson. I often tell people when they tell us a child is blessed to have us, I remind them it is the other way around. That child blesses us because we are learning something new every day.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

My daughter has adopted two and I have adopted one. Never did I think I would start over again since my two kids are grown, but God didn’t move my Micah. He chose me to adopt him so here I am starting all over again. My daughter’s two and mine all have special needs from drug exposure and Fetal alcohol, so it comes with a lot of challenges, behaviors, medical challenges and a lot of back-and-forth trips to Phoenix Children’s Hospital, but they are so funny, crazy and loving. Our home is very busy and chaotic with three toddler boys running around, which is why people and family never visit us and most days we question our life, but most of the time, they bring us so much humor… Our boys are so loved and each child that comes in is loved. Sometimes I think I might need to take a break because it has been one after the other since 2017 with only a two-week span of empty bed, but when I think I need a break, God says not yet… I believe God has made this my purpose in life. My Aunt who I was very close to was always very supportive of my fostering and she loved our babies as much as we did. She passed away from brain cancer in September of 2020. Before she passed away, she had a long heart-to-heart talk with me and said to be sure I always listen to God and read Psalm 91 every day, but also promise her I would not stop fostering unless God wanted me to stop. She told me He gave me a gift for this and I need to use it for however long I can, and it doesn’t matter if other people think I should take a break or give it up. My joke every time a new one comes: people will ask me, “Another one?” and I laugh and say I probably need an intervention. Some people collect dogs, cats or birds. I collect babies. Others will ask my daughter, “You took in another one?” and my daughter always replies, “I did not, my mother did.”