Fostering children is more than just becoming their temporary caretaker. It also goes beyond just giving them a temporary shelter. It is more of becoming an important part of their lives. Being a foster parent sure comes with tons of responsibilities, but more than that, it also gives more meaning to a foster parent’s life.
It’s more of a calling rather than a responsibility. It’s a life-changing experience! For this wonderful woman, it became the most important part of her life. It gave her bountiful blessings that she never expected to have.
In the year 2017, Katie Holstein’s life became more meaningful. It’s the year that she decided, “I wanted to be a mom.”
In a heartfelt article that she did for Love What Matters, she wrote:
“I started the process to become licensed as a foster parent in January of 2017. I wanted to be a mom, and I was tired of waiting around for Mr. Right to make it happen. I figured I would foster for several years, help reunite some families, and maybe eventually get to say yes to forever.”
It only took her 8 months before becoming a certified foster parent and she also didn’t have to wait long to receive her very first child, I mean – children.
On the same day that Katie got approved, she learned that there were three siblings in need of foster care.
“Overnight, I became a first-time mom to a newborn, 1-year-old, and 2-year-old. It was terrifying and also everything I imagined it would be and more.”
Remember when they say that, “when it rains, it pours.” That’s what exactly happened to her and we bet she couldn’t be happier with that series of unexpected events.
Over the next three years, Holstein fostered a total of 16 children, and one of them she successfully adopted, Thomas “Tiny” Holstein.
The adoption was a tedious process but, thankfully, after over a year, Katie finally became Tiny’s legal mom.
However, her story didn’t end there.
During the time that she was fostering Tiny, another girl knocked on her door.
“I got the call on March 9, 2019, from my favorite social worker. She said, ‘I know you don’t do teens, but I have this girl. She’s great, her and her current foster family just need a break. What about just for the weekend?’”
That’s when Katie met Akyra, or Okra, as she calls her.
The rest of the kids immediately fell in love with her, she’s like a missing piece of their home.
Of course, Katie also loved her. However, the timing was kind of off because at that time, she already had Tiny and 4 other kids, all under the age of 5. She wasn’t just ready to add another full-time foster child.
Okra, left with no other choice, was forced to bounce from one foster home to another for the next year.
Eventually, after knowing Okra for almost a year, Katie decided to foster her, and this time, for real. Okra was just 16 back then and she was just waiting to become 18 so that she could move out of the foster care system.
She had no plans of being adopted, not until…
“The plan became for her to stay with me until she graduated in about a year and then go into independent living, which is an amazing program our state runs. It allows teens who are going to age out to choose to recommit themselves to the cabinet until they’re 22. They get set up with housing, a stipend, mentors, help with jobs, school, etc. Basically, it allows them to have a slow, guided transition into adulthood instead of being expected to fend for themselves at 18.”
Katie and Okra became much closer and, one day, Okra asked Katie if adopting a teen ever crossed her mind.
Three days before Okra turned 17, she became Katie’s second legal child.
It’s probably the most amazing birthday present that she received her entire life. In the final part of her story, Katie shared her thoughts about the importance of fostering children and she hopes that more people would open their homes to these beautiful children.
“If our story does anything, I hope it inspires more people to open their homes to fostering. You don’t need to have it all together. God knows I didn’t. If I had waited for the ‘right time,’ I would have missed my kiddos. I promise you, there are children in your community right now who need a safe place to land and they’re not going to care you’re on a budget, have a small house, aren’t married, or are still trying to figure this whole parenting thing out. They need willing families, not perfect ones.”
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