“I guarantee you’ll be blessed”
November is National Adoption Month, and do we have a heartwarming story for you!
Meet the Drake Family. Karen and Ben Drake became certified foster parents through New Directions Youth and Family Services 8.5 years ago. Since then, they have opened their hearts and home to 21 children providing respite, foster care, and adoption.
“It’s a family affair with everyone on board,” said Karen. Karen and Ben Drake have 5 children including adopted twins, and one granddaughter. They are currently fostering a child and are in the process of adopting.
Caring, Available, and Trustworthy is how Karen describes the support the family receives from New Directions foster care team. The New Directions team visits in-home weekly and is in near-daily contact to provide support and help with the more complicated aspects of therapeutic fostering. Karen says the team is always a call or text away and readily assist, especially when documents or paperwork is needed. Karen explains that not everyone understands the process, courts, parental rights; having workers who are caring, available, and trustworthy provides her with support and assurance.
When asked what the family is most proud of, Karen gives two highlights. First, “we feel blessed to have these children in our lives. It’s a family affair with everyone on board,” said Karen. The family meets to prepare for the children coming into the home. Everyone is giving up something, whether it’s bedroom space or sharing parents’ time. Karen and Ben want to instill in their children the need to love and care for others. They hope fostering and adopting is something their children will carry on.
Second, Karen finds fulfillment in being able to maintain caring relationships with birth parents. She says it is especially rewarding to mentor, guide, and offer positive encouragement, especially under trying circumstances. It’s an extension of fostering and opportunity to treat others with compassion, and, in her experience, it has been mutually beneficial.
“Keep going!” is Karen’s advice to those contemplating foster care and adoption. “You will face natural apprehensions and fears,” she says. Karen relates that she and Ben started and stopped the certification process. However, through prayer and research, they were able to discern it was the path for which they were called. “It’s on your heart for a reason. Take one step at a time, one day at a time, and seek support from people who have walked the path,” says Karen. There are many challenges; it is important to know your family’s limits, and not every situation is right for your family. Yet, “even challenging circumstances provide ways to grow”, and summing it up Karen states, “The rewards have been tremendous.”
The question, “why foster or adopt?”, is often thought or asked. As teachers, coaches, and an administrator (Ben), the Drakes have a heart for children, saw a need, and opportunity to put their Christian faith into practice. Karen says, “Loving someone else keeps us grounded. If you follow your heart, I guarantee you’ll be blessed”.