Like all parents, the things foster parents do to care for their children is truly astounding. Most foster parents really are unsung heroes and their accomplishments are too numerous to count. But as foster care month continues, I thought I would highlight the accomplishments of one woman who took extraordinary steps to stay with her foster child.
Nine years ago, Sarah Johnson was not sure she wanted to take on any more foster children; she had already raised seven, four of whom she had adopted. But a caseworker at St. Aloysius Orphanage knew then 12-year-old Willie needed someone special. Not only does Willie have Down syndrome, but at the time he was suffering from a variety of serious health problems, including heart complications and kidney disease. Sarah could not shake what she calls ‘God’s will’ and lovingly accepted Willie into her home, nursing him through his considerable health issues.
But Sarah always knew she could not be Willie’s foster parent forever. Eventually Willie would age out of the foster care system and need a caregiver through Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services. Without a high school diploma, Sarah could not qualify to be Willie’s caregiver, and at 67 with an 11th grade education, Sarah was understandably intimidated. Luckily, her caseworker, Tina, talked her into at least attempting the GED test. For four months, Sarah’s grandson, brothers, sisters, church members and pastor helped her study. When she finally took the GED in March, she earned a perfect score, and Willie will be able stay.
I applaud Sarah for her hard work and incredible dedication. But while Sarah’s accomplishments are extraordinary, I want to again thank all foster parents for their remarkable efforts to provide foster children with a loving home.