Steve and Melva Anglin have had a busy weekend. Having six children of their own at home — four foster children and two they adopted — they also cared for their daughter’s three foster children while she was away at a foster care training program. But by now, they’re used a full house. Melva said when it’s quiet, things just don’t seem normal.


Steve and Melva Anglin have had a busy weekend. Having six children of their own at home — four foster children and two they adopted — they also cared for their daughter’s three foster children while she was away at a foster care training program. But by now, they’re used a full house. Melva said when it’s quiet, things just don’t seem normal.

 

The Anglins, who live in Dickson, have been foster parents for going on 14 years. They originally started fostering their granddaughter when she was 3 months old as part of the Department of Human Services foster care kinship program, where children are placed in the homes of relatives until they can go back to their families. In the past 14 years, they’ve had 18 foster children, including 8- and 9-year-old girls whose adoptions were finalized in September.

 

For Melva, it’s just been a way of life that seems to run in the family. Her husband’s father and his wife were foster parents, and now Melva’s daughter is taking up the cause. But, according to Kelly Slover, the DHS foster care supervisor for Carter County, the need for more families like the Anglins is greater than ever.

 

“As of December 2009, there are 122 children in foster care in Carter County, excluding some children in kinship placement and trial adoptive parents,” Slover said.

 

May is National Foster Care Awareness Month and Slover and other foster care workers hope to get the word out to the public that more help is needed to give children a safe, stable environment while family issues are being worked out.”

 

“Reunification is the goal for the children,” she said. “Until they’re reunified, our first placement, we want it to be our best placement. We don’t want our children to move from home to home.”
Melva said it’s been hard sometimes to let the children go back to their families because she gets attached to each one who stays with her, but she knows it’s what’s best for them in the long run.

 

“To me, it’s a shock when they say they’re moving,” she said. “You just have to sit back and think this is what’s best for them. We had a little boy who was 10 days old and we had him until he was 15 months old and he went back to his mom and that was hard. But we did the bridging and worked with his mom for her to come to see him.

 

“We also had another little boy about the same time who ended up being adopted,” Melva said. “He went to a very nice family and it’s a relief when you see something like that. There’s comfort in knowing that.”

 

The “bridging” Melva mentioned is a program where foster families work with the biological families of the children in their care to oversee visits and help get to know the families so the child is more comfortable in transition back to the home. It also works the same way with adoptive families, providing a common link for the child.

 

According to www.oklahomabridgefamilies.com, “Bridge acts as a catalyst for helping children achieve permanence more quickly while enabling them to maintain connections in their lives. This program is designed to provide a placement resource that is committed to working with the child’s birth family towards the goal of reunification; and, if reunification fails, Bridge is committed to raising/parenting the child. Committed to maintaining a permanent connection for the child, the Bridge family not only provides care for the child, but also acts as a mentor to the child’s birth family.”

 

“The goal is to have these relationships built because studies have been done (that show) if you increase the visitation, you increase the chances of having the child go back to the family,” Slover said.

 

In the meantime, there is still a need for foster families to take care of the children in the meantime.

 

According to Melva, a foster parent needs to be “someone who really cares about the children and what’s happening.”

 

“That’s why we got started. It’s not something we planned to do at this time in our lives. We thought we’d be retired now and enjoying our grandchildren and sending them home,” Melva said. “Sometimes I think that we’re going to stop. Our home never gets empty, but when the foster children leave and it gets quiet two weeks down the road we think, ‘We need some more children.’

 

“To me, this is what life is about is the children,” she said. “They’re the future. They need as much stability as they can and we can provide.”

 

Kelly Slover, the DHS foster care supervisor for Carter County, said a foster parent can be anyone from a married couple to a single person in a stable relationship. Potential foster parents must complete a home study process, background checks and 27 hours of family resource training, among other requirements.


“They have to handle behavior issues, they have to process the system, they have to be able to deal with the child,” she said.


Anyone interested in being a foster parent can contact the Carter County office at (580) 490-6060, write to Department of Human Services Child Welfare, 925 W. Broadway St., Ardmore, OK 73401 or log on to www.oklahomabridgefamilies.com.