It was about 15 years ago when Julie Holmlund was asked to look after one of her friend’s foster children for the weekend.
Holmlund and her husband, who didn’t have any children of their own, had a great time over those 48 hours looking after their friend’s child. It made such an impact, in fact, they decided to sign up as relief foster parents.
“One thing led to another, and all of a sudden we’re applying to be a full-on foster family and foster home,” Holmlund says. “It just kind of took off from there.”
Did it ever. The Holmlunds welcomed the first foster child into their home in 2009, and since then they have cared for 29 children overall, adopting seven of them.
“They capture your heart, right?” Holmlund says. “These little ones, they just want to be loved and feel safe. And it’s the best feeling to be able to provide that. It gives them a sense of family and belonging and what every kid wants—a safe place to fall when they get home from school.”
October is Foster Family Month in B.C., and BC Foster Parents Association is honouring those who step in to care for children and youth who, for many reasons, are unable to live with their families.
The emotional rewards that come with fostering know no bounds, according to Holmlund, who says if she’s crying when her foster children leave for a new home, it’s because a deep connection was made.
“When you hear their stories, you just can't help but say yes, let them come here,” Holmlund says. “I will love on them, I will keep them safe, I will help them transition, and I will help them, you know, be kids.”
She says it’s important for foster parents to have thick skin, a big heart and a willingness to care and love unconditionally. It’s not always a smooth relationship—then again, which ones are?—but the good massively outweighs the bad.
“The toughest part for us was dealing with the biological family,” Holmlund says. “We have worked hard with our relationships with the birth family. We tell them we’re not replacing you. We’re just caring for your child for now. You just try and remain neutral, amicable, kind and considerate.”
Nine times out of 10, that results in a relationship that lasts well after the foster children have returned home or moved on to a new home.
“I still have families that some of the children were adopted out to Alberta,” she says. “I’m still in contact with the birth family for those kids and still send Christmas presents back and forth. You can develop some strong, lifelong relationships.
“I love being connected, because I get to see them grow up, even if it’s just in pictures. I’m like the faraway auntie or grandma.”
If you are thinking about becoming a foster parent, Holmlund wants you to know it is more a lifestyle than a job, nor are you going to get rich doing it. She says it’s also important to have a strong support system.
This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.