Alexandria Ware

My story of foster care started when our children were still fairly young. We were a middle income family with a Brady Bunch combination of children. My husband had two, a girl and a boy. I had a daughter as well, and then we had a son. We shared custody of my husband’s children from his first marriage, and I had no problem loving them as my own and always hated to see them go.  

One day, I was overwhelmed with the things we had to be thankful for. We had built our home, and it had more than enough space for us. We lived right on the outskirts of a very small town, where it was no challenge to know every resident and most of their pet’s names, and I wanted to give back out of gratefulness for the things that had been provided for us.

My husband was not very involved with the process of going into fostering, but he did not supply resistance, and so I eagerly began the journey of getting the proper training and licensing. Of course, when the day arrived, I asked for younger kids because I was already very accomplished in caring for them. Our oldest daughter was then eleven. The first opportunity to take in an addition to our family turned out to be a 16-year-old teenager with a long history of running away.  Ours was the first home she was placed in, and so she had to be as anxious as I was when she arrived. She had rebelled against her family, largely because of the lack of structure. She actually wanted someone who cared enough to help her set boundaries and follow up with love and commitment if she did not comply with them. 

She and I sat down together that first day and talked about what the rules of the house should be and what the consequences should be if they were not followed.  I was shocked to find her ideas were more severe than mine would have been, but those were the ones we placed on a piece of paper to make sure they were acknowledged and observed by both of us. The easy thing was to love her. She was bright, artistic and gifted. She had a few medical problems and struggled with anxiety. Her biggest challenge at school was the desire for flight each time conflict came up, but that was easily resolved by a phone conversation and my going to pick her up at the school for a few minutes and talking through everything and then taking her back. She never ran away, and her anxiety level reduced as she gained trust and confidence.

This young lady worked with our family and with very little conflict and some visits with a great counselor, was able to transition to moving to live with her grandmother in another state as she prepared for adulthood. I felt good about the progress we had both made in learning what it is like to foster. I also felt good about the opportunities that lay ahead to make a difference in the lives of children in need of safe, loving and structured homes.  We had several experiences with a wide variety of young people who transitioned in and out of our home. We even had some that came back to live with us after the age of 18 to try to get a fresh start again. I obtained good memories and, I have to admit, some heartache when they left. But I know that fostering touched my life, the life of our own children, and also the lives of youth who taught us and inspired us along the way.   

After retiring from the Kansas Legislature, I knew I wanted to advocate for children in care. I now work for the Kansas Department for Children and Families as the Director of Faith-based and Community Initiatives. My job allows me to travel the state and present the need for temporary, loving homes for children in Kansas foster care. It is a great honor to work for an agency as dedicated and passionate about protecting and serving Kansas children as I am.

The views of our bloggers do not necessarily reflect the views of the Kansas Department for Children and Families or Foster Kansas Kids.