She couldn’t get the pictures and stories she saw on the news out of her mind. A 3-year-old killed by his mother’s boyfriend. Marcus Fiesel locked in a closet and left for dead.
Karen White kept asking herself, What can I do to try to stop this from happening? What would make me feel better, make me feel like I’m doing something for these kids?
She became a foster parent.
Since, White and her two boys – Khafra, 19, and Vincent, 11 – have been a temporary family to more than a dozen kids. She’s licensed with Lighthouse Youth Services.
She and her boys tell stories about the kids – she mostly takes school-age boys – who have lived in their house. One loved to go next door to “Cadillac Larry’s” because Larry worked on cars and would talk to the boy while he did it.
It’s Vincent’s job to start making the foster kids feel comfortable. He introduces them to the other kids on the street. He does not point out that they’re foster children: “I just say, ‘This is my friend.”
Some of the kids stay a couple of weeks, some have stayed months. One was adopted by a family who lives nearby, so White still sees him occasionally. One recently called her on his birthday.
She feels good about that ongoing contact: “They must have been fairly happy with their time here.”
HCJFS workers are happy when they see a new placement land in White’s home.
“She is very supportive of the adoption process,” worker Tamara Harrison said, “and always willing to help out with the transition.”
White is just a delight to work with, said worker Emily Moore.
“Karen is patient, rational, and nurturing,” she said. “She remains calm when children test her commitment and keeps the child a part of the conversation about how to make better choices without blaming or shaming. She looks for children’s potentials and talents and helps the child to recognize their own strengths. Karen is fun and engaging, and keeps kids active in the community. Karen is an excellent liaison during transitions into and out of her home, and helps prepare children for moves in a way that gives them tools for success.”
White likes fostering because she likes to watch as the kids’ lives change.
“I remember what they were like when they initially got here,” she said. “And I like to see the results when they’re ready to leave.”