Fun and Inspirational Books For Foster Parents
To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care by Cris Beam – Who are the children of foster care? What, as a country, do we owe them? Cris Beam, a foster mother herself, spent five years immersed in the world of foster care looking into these questions and tracing firsthand stories. The result is To the End of June, an unforgettable portrait that takes us deep inside the lives of foster children in their search for a stable, loving family. Beam shows us the intricacies of growing up in the system—the back-and-forth with agencies, the rootless shuffling between homes, the emotionally charged tug between foster and birth parents, the terrifying push out of foster care and into adulthood. Humanizing and challenging a broken system, To the End of June offers a tribute to resiliency and hope for real change.
Far From the Tree by Robin Benway – A captivating young adult fiction novel about the story of three teen siblings who were separated from each other in the foster system and, through a series of events, find each other. It’s obvious that the author has some depth of experience in the field of foster care, evidenced by her poignant portrayals of the teens’ sense of loss, abandonment, identity questions and even ambivalence about their individual stories. In addition to building relationships with each other once reunited, the teens have to navigate pretty difficult home-life situations. The conversations between the siblings have a ring of authenticity that is often very moving for the reader. Far From the Tree is a quick easy read and a great peek into an adolescent perspective on the twists and turns of foster care, foster to adopt, and the added layer of family dynamics that many teens are facing both in and out of the system.
Fostering Love: One Foster Parent’s Journey by John DeGarmo – The emotional story of DeGarmo and his family’s journey to live out God’s call for them to open their home as foster parents. DeGarmo and his wife have been foster parents for over fifteen years and have had more than fifty children come through their home. Through the sleepless nights with drug-addicted babies, the battles with angry teens, and the tears from such tremendous sadness, DeGarmo has learned that following God’s call in his life means to take up His cross in his own home. Fostering Love is a frank look at the struggles and rewards of the experience.
Love and Mayhem: One Big Family’s Uplifting Story of Fostering and Adoption by John DeGarmo – An honest and open account of the struggles, sadness and joy that comes with the job of being a parent to a traumatized child. A foster parent for more than fifteen years, DeGarmo gives a poignent account of the rewards and being satisfied of having foster children in spite and despite of the sacrifices and pain. A great insight to the large families having a foster child or adopted child.
Another Place at the Table by Kathy Harrison – The authentic story of one woman’s experience as a veteran foster parent. It is a tale of life at our social services’ front lines, centered on three children who, when they come together in Harrison’s home, nearly destroy it. It is the frank first-person story of a woman whose compassionate best intentions for a child are sometimes all that stand between violence and redemption. You can listen to an interview with Kathy Harrison on the Creating a Family Radio Show/Podcast.
Counting Down: A Memoir of Foster Parenting and Beyond by Deborah Gold – When Deborah Gold and her husband signed up to foster parent in their rural mountain community, they could not have foreseen that it would be the start of a roller-coaster fifteen years of involvement with a traumatized yet resilient birth family. They fell in love with Michael (a toddler when he came to them), yet they had to reckon with the knowledge that he could leave their lives at any time. In Counting Down, Gold tells the story of forging a family within a confounding system. We meet social workers, a birth mother with the courage to give her children the childhood she never had herself, and a father parenting from prison. Gold’s memoir is one of the few books to deliver a foster parent’s perspective (and, through Michael’s own poetry and essays, that of a former foster child). In it, she shakes up common assumptions and offers a powerfully frank and hopeful look at an experience often portrayed as bleak.
Dancing with a Porcupine: Parenting Wounded Children Without Losing Your Self by Jennie Lynn Owens – When Owens and her husband started their adoption journey, they were convinced that love would heal all wounds. They were unprepared for the realities of adopting three children from foster care. Owens felt alone and inadequate. She wanted so much to help your child, but was also at the end of her rope. Dancing with a Porcupine chronicles her struggle to stay loving, giving, and forgiving in the midst of a daily battle with children acting out the rage, resentment, and pain of their own traumatic pasts. A fantastic read for anyone considering becoming a foster parent.
One BIG Family: A Foster Mother’s Journey with 200 Children by Claudia Peacock – Growing up in a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic father, an angry mother, and seven siblings wasn’t easy for author Claudia Peacock. In One BIG Family, Claudia shares how her childhood struggles eventually lead her to successfully fostering over 200 children. Her mission is twofold: to show all parents and children, no matter what their circumstances are, that they can choose happiness and enjoy peaceful lives, and to demystify foster parenting and advocate for families through first-hand accounts of caring for children in crisis while raising three biological children and working full time.
Three Little Words: A Memoir by Ashley Rhodes-Courter – The inspiring true story of the tumultuous nine years Ashley Rhodes-Courter spent in the foster care system, and how she triumphed over painful memories and real-life horrors to ultimately find her own voice. Ashley was removed from her mother at the age of four and spent the next nine years bouncing between fourteen different foster homes before finally finding her forever family. Three Little Words chronicles the trauma of being removed from her mother through the difficulties of foster care and the horror of an abusive foster family while also showing the need for compassion from everyone involved in foster care.
The Women Who Raised Me by Victoria Rowell – Victoria Rowell spent her life in foster care. The Women Who Raised Me is the remarkable story of her rise out of the foster care system to attain the American Dream—and of the unlikely series of women who lifted, motivated, and inspired her along the way, including her mentally ill birth mother, and highlights how love triumphs biology every time. Rowell has succeeded as a well known TV actress (Diagnosis Murder and The Young and The Restless) and founded a non profit to help children in foster care.
Stretch-mark My Heart: Building Our Family through Adoption One Child (or Two) at a Time by Niki Breeser Tschirgi – Stretch-mark My Heart follows the adoption journey of Matt and Niki Tschirgi and lays the groundwork from start to finish of what it takes to have a child permanently placed in your home for adoption. Through fostering, private adoption, open adoption, and foster-to-adopt, Niki recounts the lonely and grievous road of infertility, her and her husband’s decision-making process to choose adoption, the hard work and perseverance to get licensed to be foster parents, and the finalization of six adoptions.
Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos – In this funny, heartwarming memoir, actress Nia Vardalos (of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame) chronicles her journey to motherhood. After 9 years of infertility treatment, 13 IVF cycles, 2 failed surrogacy attempts and numerous adoption attempts, Vardalos and her husband finally adopted an almost-three-year-old girl from foster care. Instant Mom chronicles her struggles with infertility, her decision to transition to adoption and the joys and heartache of adopting an older child. You can listen to an interview with Nia Vardalos on the Creating a Family Radio Show/Podcast, or read about it on the Creating a Family blog.