Jackson County Foster and Adoptive Parents
by Martha Smith
- Friday, 31 January 2020 16:36
There are 125 in-case children in Jackson County, and less than half of those are placed in foster care. If you estimate an average of three children to make up a family of siblings, a unit, there are approximately 42 “units” in need of a home and a family to take them in.
That means the Jackson County Foster and Adoptive Parent Association (FAPA) is in need of at least 50 willing homes at this exact moment.
FAPA is gearing up to host another class for anyone interested in becoming a foster parent. The class starts on February 23rd and meets every Sunday for 10 weeks from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at DHR, 305 Bingham Street in Scottsboro.
These classes are open to anyone interested, or anyone who has questions. The criteria for a suitable foster are surprising. Participants can be single. They do not have to be married to foster, but if they are married, they must have been married for at least one year. They must also be 19 years of age, and they will have to undergo being fingerprinted and pass a background check. During the 10 weeks of classes, there will be two home visits to inspect the home of a foster to ensure the standards and requirements for a safe home for a foster child are met. The foster parent must also have a steady source of income and be financially independent.
A local FAPA family had this to say about the program and experience: “Our family has been blessed over the past four years to be a part of the wonderful ministry of foster care. We can look back and see God’s hand molding our lives to the point of stepping into licensing classes in January of 2016. In that moment, I thought I knew what to expect over the coming years and placements. I was “prepared” because multiple family members had worked for years as case workers, investigators, etc., and their stories of dealing with heartache and grace and slip ups and had given me a “special insight.” I would soon learn how foolish my pride was.
For the past few years, our family has been immersed in the beautiful brokenness and grace of this ministry of reconciliation. We are broken people who signed up to partner with a broken system in hopes of helping other broken people in the worst trials of their lives. It is absolutely the most rewarding experience we have ever walked through.
We have laughed, cried, screamed in anger, sat in silence, begged for mercy, prayed for grace, questioned if we were asking too much of each other because of the enormity of the sacrifice required to truly love the way we have been loved. We watched in awe at the glory of God’s grace when seeing one of our babies thriving with their families that had been ripped apart by poor choices.
Our local FAPA has meant the world to us. We have a family there that has walked through similar trials, pains and victories that we have experienced. They are a family we can depend on to cry with us, dance with us, pray for us, be a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen or give advice when we don’t have a clue what we are doing. They share their spare cribs, out-grown clothes, wisdom, coffee and anything else needed as we walk hand in hand through situations with children that no child should be in – but they are nonetheless. And that’s the point of FAPA. In FAPA we have a family who shares a common goal with us. We work to give these children the love they need for as long as they’re with us, while loving their parents in whatever situation they’re in, with the hope that they experience the same grace we have all been shown. We are a team called to this ministry. My little family could not survive without the support we have in our FAPA family. We pray for them, and we thank God for them. They are all superheroes in our eyes.”
Everyone is encouraged to come to a class, and they are reminded there is no commitment to follow through with everything entailed. The best step is the first step, and sometimes that just entails receiving information for a later date or to pass along.
If you have questions or would like to sign up, contact the instructor, April Ballard at 256-575-6025. You can also find FAPA on Facebook under Jackson County Foster and Adoptive Parent Association.