Foster parents needed in Washington

SEATTLE — May is National Foster Care Awareness Month, and right now there is a call for more people to become foster parents. The need comes as public places start to reopen and there’s a return to in-person learning.

“Every child deserves a family, that every child no matter their age, how they identify themselves, their journey into the child welfare system, that every child deserves the security and safety of a family,” said Rita Soronen, CEO and President of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

Rita Soronen is the CEO and President of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, a nonprofit dedicated to finding permanent homes for children in foster care. Soronen is concerned there will be more children entering the foster care system as places impacted by the pandemic start to reopen.

“We know reporting of children of cases of abuse has gone down, because those systems that typically identify abuse school systems, doctor’s offices, dental offices have been closed down or people are not engaging in those,” said Soronen.

It can take anywhere from 6 months to a year for foster parents to become certified. Soronen is worried there won’t be enough families prepared to take foster children in. The foundation just celebrated a huge milestone and they hope this highlights the impact and importance of foster parents. Nationally, they’ve reached 10,000 adoptions since they began in 2004.

“There is still work to be done and that’s why I do my job. I want to help these kids out I want to make a difference in their lives,” said Mariah Fore, Specialized Adoption Recruiter.

Fore works for Children’s Home Society of Washington’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program, a program through the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Fore recently worked closely with the Bowdens of Snohomish County to finalize their adoption in December of 2020. Similar to many foster families during the pandemic, check-ins with families and even the ceremonies were virtual to keep everyone safe.

“Family comes from the heart, family isn’t just about a bloodline, family is who you love and that’s what really makes a family,” said adoptive parent Lora Bowden.

Lora and Matt Bowden hope their foster adoption story inspires other families. They began their journey as foster parents in 2014, growing their family over the years with the adoption of twin boys from Ethiopia, a little girl from Columbia and a medically fragile young boy, who tragically passed in 2019.

On December 23, 2020, Lora and Matt officially adopted 12-year-old Angel and 6-year-old Zaayne through the collaborative efforts of Children’s Home Society of Washington, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and the Department of Children, Youth, and Families.

“You’re never too old, I hear people say that all the time. I didn’t start my adoption journey until I was 50, so since my 50th birthday I have six kids, I adopted six children since my 50th birthday,” said Lora Bowden.

It was after raising four biological children that Lora and Matt became foster parents and adopted six more children. Completing their loving family of 12.

“You are much more capable than you give yourself credit for. We would never have dreamed 5 or 6 years ago that our family would look the way it does and be this size,” said Matt Bowden.

For information on the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Program: https://www.childrenshomesociety.org/wwk