Glenn and Andrea Ahern
Glenn and Andrea Ahern

Building Connections: What It's Really Like to Be a Resource Parent

Author: Social Services
Date: 2/22/2018 10:40:01 AM

When Glenn and Andrea became Resource Parents, they didn't intend to eventually adopt children—they were just trying to help a family in crisis. Here, they answer a question many ask: What is it really like to be a Resource Parent?


Building Connections: What It's Really Like to Be a Resource Parent

When Glenn and Andrea Ahern began their journey as Resource Parents, it wasn’t their intention to foster and eventually adopt children—they were just trying to help a family they knew who was in a time of crisis. Now, Andrea and Glenn have gained two sons during their time providing foster care, in addition to their three biological children. Here, they answer a question many ask: What is it really like to be a Resource Parent?

Building relationships with day-to-day family time. The Aherns have taken the time with both of their new children to get to know them and build a relationship with them. Andrea recalls that their son was quiet and accommodating when he moved in with them and while he often struggled with following traditional rules, she knew he was a good kid. Andrea said that having what she thinks of as “normal family time,” such as playing games together and talking, has helped her build a relationship with their older son, who had never experienced this type of time with parents. Andrea said that having one-on-one time with her younger son, playing games and doing art, has been vital in building their relationship as well. Just like any other children, not all foster youth are the same or have had the same experiences. The Aherns have taken the time to learn what is important to both of their sons. They have also committed themselves to ensuring their children receive all of the love, care, and assistance that they need.

Creating memories. Andrea recalls one of her fondest memories with their older son as a time when they went on a family vacation to San Diego and he was able to experience real family time with a family that loves and cares about him so much. With their younger son, Andrea recalls a time when he was able to express real, raw emotion. It was then that she knew that he was scared of being vulnerable and feeling like part of a family, but Andrea knew they were actually making a connection at this time.  Some of the best memories with their children involve the times that the Aherns are able to get a glimpse of their sons’ true selves.

Learning from surprises—and sticking together in tough times. Life is full of surprises and foster care is no different. Andrea said one surprise is how much a youth’s past experience impacts their development and learning. Andrea said that these youth need advocates; that you can’t just love away all of their negative experiences. These youth need love, but love is not the Band-Aid that fixes all. More than anything, she said, these youth need someone willing to stick through the hard stuff for long periods of time and try new avenues when the current one is not effective. Andrea said that fostering is a commitment: they may not be able to provide a traditional family for these children, but they can build a relationship with them. Andrea said she and Glenn have found they can love their non-biological children just as much as their biological children, but in a completely different way.

Leaning on a true support network. Like anything in life, being a Resource Parent comes with challenges. Andrea said the best way to deal with the challenges of being a Resource Parent is to create a support network. She has a great supportive Social Worker, supportive family, and a supportive church. She said that finding people who can provide respite for you and not being afraid to ask for help are vital so you can take care of yourself as well. Andrea hopes that she can create a support team with members of her church to help all foster parents, not just those that attend her church, and to alleviate their stress by helping them with seemingly small things such as meals and respite.

Taking the next step. To those wondering if they can be involved with foster youth, the answer is yes: everybody can do something. As Andrea puts it: if we want things to get better in the world, we have to be the ones to help people through their hurt.

Can you be the one to help a hurting family? For more information on how you can get involved, please visit our website at www.slofostercare.com or call (805) 781-1705.