The Roepers – Offering a Loving Home to Foster Children with Mental Health Needs


 What about fostering brings you joy?    

That we are giving kids a sense of a healthy family. That they will be immensely loved for however long they stay with us. The part that really makes me enjoy this process is that the kids feel safe with us and trust us. When we are in situations where I want to make sure they are feeling safe I will ask them if they feel safe or if they trust me to do something. When they say yes it makes me realize I am doing the right thing for them and that in the moment they can truly be a kid and just enjoy life.

Can you describe a specific time that made you really smile?

I feel like the times you know you’re making a difference are really small things. An example is the other day when I picked up a 13-year-old from school she told me she had to tell me all the gossip from school because I was her best friend. Just knowing that she had a trusting adult in her life was a good thing.

Also with the younger kids when you’re taking them to Therapies and things like that and working really hard on learning new skills sometimes it just comes out in the most random places. One day something that they’re really struggling with suddenly becomes something they’re not struggling with. Or when you have a kid in your home that’s very reserved and shy and you can tell had a lot of trauma from being removed and they slowly start to come out of their shell and interact more with your family members.

Another example that I can think of is we had a six-year-old girl with us who had very low self-esteem and was very unwilling to stand up for herself. And when we saw her start to stand up for herself it was an awesome thing to see. I even teased her therapist one day she talked back to me a little bit and while I corrected it and told her that that was not OK. I was super excited to see that she had  The confidence to try it.

What’s something you’d like to share with someone considering becoming a foster parent?

Don’t have expectations. Go into it with an open mind. It can be very heavy but it brings an immense amount of joy.

What is different about foster care for children with mental health needs, and how did you address that?

Every child we have had since we started fostering has had a form of a mental health need. It is from trauma from their home or trauma from visits back to their previous home after they started living with us. We have been trying to stay ahead of the game since before we started fostering.

We have addressed it by being well trained and seeking out resources and professionals in that field. We are part of our church’s adoption group and we meet up once a month to go over various topics and show support for one another.

What is different about foster care for teens, and how did you address that?

Teens come with a much stronger sense of who they are and who their families are. Honoring the rhythms of their previous home life can be a balancing act.

They are great communicators. They can tell you about their history themselves and how it affected them as opposed to getting it from a third party or from a paper. They can share with you what their normal was before they came to you. It is less of a guessing game when learning their habits.

What we’ve found to be successful with teens is starting off as friends and gauging what their expectations are from us as parents.

What did you gain from fostering, personally?

Patience. We know it sounds odd but having kids who need more patience has helped us grow our own as a necessity.

How did Beech Acres help?

They answer all our silly questions. They are always there. They are also great communicators.

What kept you moving forward and how do you find balance? 

We started fostering with an understanding that there would be highs and lows. Our social workers have always helped us, as well as our families. We have a great support system.