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Foster Family Spotlight: Tim & Jessica Raymond

Tim and Jessica met while in graduate school where they each got a Masters in Social Work. They both have experience working in social services, and Jessica is now an Elementary School Counselor, which is how they were first introduced to foster care.  The Raymonds have been married for two years, were licensed as foster parents, and took their first placement all in their first year of marriage.

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Before they were married, Jessica attended a Family Team Decision Meeting with a 5th grader who attended her school, and as the meeting went on, it was clear that there was not a permanent placement option for the girl.  They had talked about being a suitable other placement for her before the meeting, but were surprised with how quickly things moved. Jessica said, “from that meeting, she came home with me!” Tim remembers, “I came home from work and she was here, and it was quick!  I just thought Jessica wasn’t kidding!”

They talked about the process of taking in this student with such ease, as if it was just another Wednesday afternoon!  Jessica remembers that the girl had been out of school for several weeks, and was hungry. They made sure she got a hot shower and some fresh clothes, and began to see some really incredible changes while she stayed with them. Jessica remembers, “It was pretty amazing to see the transformation that she made just being in a safe environment. She went from being all hunched over, hair in her face, not really engaging with other kids. And then she would walk in with me to school, and she would be standing up straight, with a big smile on her face!  You know, she was making friends, and her teachers were amazed at the transformation that was being made for her.”

And I wish that we could give that to kids without having to take them from their parents. Something my principal and I talk about a lot is how to better support these families that are really struggling so that their children do not end up in foster care. But it’s hard, it’s really hard.”
— Jessica Raymond

Tim & Jessica were suitable others for this girl for three months, before she moved to stay with her aunt and uncle.  They still talk to her from time to time, and say she’s doing really well.

After their experience as suitable others, they decided that anything worth doing is worth doing right, and were licensed as foster parents, in hopes they would be more prepared for future placements.

Tim and Jessica Raymond were nominated for Foster Family of the Month by their friends, who said, “Last spring we became emergency foster parents to a little boy.  He had two older brothers who were also in emergency care. We were hoping and praying for a long-term foster family who could take all 3 boys. This is no easy task! Who takes 3 boys?  But we prayed for a miracle. Right after being licensed and newly married, Tim and Jessica said "yes" to becoming foster parents to these 3 boys, giving them the gift of each other. We've been truly amazed watching them parent these boys”

A friend of theirs, who is also a school counselor, had their eye on 3 brothers that needed a foster home, and gave Tim & Jessica a phone call not long after they had been licensed.  They had originally been licensed for just one child, so taking three felt like a big endeavor! Jessica said that it was a unique situation- three boys from the same family- they were afraid that the boys might get split up, and that was a selling point. Tim said, “We get to provide a place for these three boys  to stay together- that’s when I said ‘All right! Let’s do this!’”

The boys had been in care for only a month when they came to live with the Raymonds, and since they hadn’t been living together before, having all three boys in one space brought up some behavioral problems.  At first, they wanted to give the kids lots of space, but eventually realized they needed to implement lots of structure. Tim says, “the first three months were rough, and then slowly things got better. But we didn’t really reach cruising altitude until they had been here 5 months.”

Just as they had seen physical and behavioral changes with their first placement, they began to see the same things with the three boys.  They were enrolled in summer school to get some literacy support, and read daily, which helped make up for time they had lost in school. The youngest boy refused to bathe, and suffered from eczema, so even the simplest act of bathing daily resulted in a physical transformation.

“That was one of those things, were you can see the change with your own eyes, it’s pretty crazy, it’s pretty amazing what happens. He looked like a completely different kid.”
— Tim Raymond

They both remarked that some of the behavioral and academic changes were a result of time.  The longer the kids were there, the more they began to trust them, and have good attitudes toward them.  Jessica said the oldest brother in particular had a hard time, “he was the most distant, but over time he started to recognize that we were here to help him and support him.”

When I asked the Raymonds to talk about the best parts and the hardest parts about being foster parents, they expressed the same sentiments that I hear from a lot of families.  Tim said the most difficult thing about fostering was the impact that it had on their marriage. He said that while some of the behavior issues were hard to work through, feeling the impact on his relationship with Jessica was by far the hardest part.  Jessica said the hardest part for her was seeing how vulnerable the kids are who are in this situation, and how heartbreaking it is to care for children who did not do anything to deserve where they are.

Throughout our conversation, both parents said really incredible things about their friends and the community that surrounds them.  After taking in 3 children, they had lots of help and even meal trains to help them get adjusted. In regards to ongoing support, Jessica said, “The support is still there, but when you’re in the trenches, it’s easy to forget that people are there.”  In addition to Jessica working as a school counselor, they have lots of friends that work in the public schools, and friends who are social workers. Jessica had been to several FTDMs because of her work, and had a pretty good understanding of the foster care system, which she said was a huge help because it can be a very confusing system to jump into.

When asked about the most positive parts of foster parenting, they agreed that it was so rewarding to see the physical and behavioral changes in all three boys during the year they cared for them.  One of the boys developed incredible problem solving skills, another boy’s speech changed drastically and would respond to situations much better. The oldest became more social, bonding with other kids at school, and participating in school sports.  At the end of our time together, Tim said, “Seeing their growth was the best thing. Hopefully they will have those tools for the rest of their lives, you know, the things that we were able to teach them.”

Tim & Jessica don’t have any foster child placements currently, but have been busy with their little girl, who they welcomed to the world in early September.  Congrats Raymond family!

Family Photos courtesy of Petra Photography