When Love Box volunteer, Caley, was matched with brothers Josh & Jacob,* she committed to journey alongside them, no matter where the foster system took them.
Going into this role, here is what Caley didn't know:
Foster care is often full of unknowns and things beyond our control. What Caley could control, was her ability to be steadfast, patient, and honor everyone with her words and actions. As the boys packed their things, yet again, Caley wrote a letter for the DCYF social worker to give to the new foster parents. And then she held her breath...
To Josh & Jacob's new Foster Family,
Thank you for keeping these amazing brothers together and welcoming them into your home right before their birthdays and Christmas. I recognize the holiday season is hectic as it is, and your love and care for these boys are not going unnoticed.
To introduce myself, my name is Caley, and I was fortunate enough to meet Josh & Jacob through Olympic Angels (a local organization supporting foster children and their foster families). I have undergone a background check and trauma-informed relationship training in order to best support the foster care community. I have gotten to know these boys over the past few months and love them dearly. I would love the opportunity to get to know your family and support you in whatever ways I can. I am here to help make your lives easier and help make this transition for your family and the boys as smooth as possible!
I spent Sunday afternoon with the boys and they shared their birthday wishes and presents that they want. (Their birthdays are both coming up in about a week!). I have a couple of gifts that I’d like to give the boys around their birthdays. If you have a different birthday plan in mind, I’d be happy to offer my help!
Here are some ways that I am able to offer support through Olympic Angels: provide birthday/Christmas gifts, babysit, take the boys to the park, drop off family dinners, provide gift cards when new clothes or school supplies are needed, and tutor the boys.
I am here to support your entire family unit. I am so grateful to you for your heart and your willingness to keep Josh & Jacob together, loved, and cared for.
Please reach out to me at anytime and let me know how I can best support your foster family and the boys moving forward.
I'm so happy to tell you that the foster family welcomed Caley and the Love Box. The foster mother included Caley fully on the team for the boys and kept her connected, despite the obstacles.
This month Caley moved these boys home with some of their biological family for the first time in a long time. As life would have it, they are going to live on the other side of the water, close to where Caley has found a new job and home for Scruff & herself. She already has the bunk beds waiting.
Caley is a Love Box leader. Behind her is the Love Box team. Behind each of her actions, each of her offerings of meals, gifts, and time, is a robust Love Box of 8 additional committed folks. She truly could not have done this without Quinn & her mom Christy, couples Leigh & Cliff, Shelli & Jason, Patty & dear Melissa. Caley begins her update emails with, "Hey Love Box Family!" This group was pieced together because of their common heart to serve children in the foster care system well. Most didn't know each other prior to saying "yes" to this adventure together. But they have cooked, babysat, tutored, driven to family visitations, celebrated and grieved together. This is what community does for its children.
Interview with Caley, World Changer & Love Box Leader
What do you wish people knew about foster care?
How big the need is for them to be involved in some way. There is room for everyone to be a part of the village of support, to support the kids, the foster parents, and the biological families.
What have you been able to do for the boys in your Love Box family?
I am able to be a consistent adult that loves them and is there for them regardless of where they go. I think for them, as they’ve moved through three different homes, they always knew I was there and I was always going to be there. It gives them a person to trust who wants to be there, who isn’t paid to be there. I’m not a service. I’m an adult who loves them.
How were you received by others?
I think this is an important part of the story to share. Once their social worker at DCYF was able to understand that our purpose was to love these boys and stay present in their lives, it lightened the load for everyone.
We were able to help with their visitation with their parent by transporting the boys to Seattle for visits every weekend.
Their parent was able to see them in their own home. They didn’t have to come to a hotel to see them which was better for everyone. For the boys, this was a real visit with family. It was fun. We got snacks, ice cream, listened to music on the way. We had fun with it.
I want to be a foster parent one day. This has helped me see that I had a little more heart change and growth to do before I can fully foster successfully. By successfully, I mean I have the goal of keeping siblings together until permanency (reunification with family or adoption) is reached. I wouldn't want to have children moved from my home or separated because I wasn't ready to do the work on my end. This experience is helping to get me ready.
What have you personally gotten out of the experience of volunteering as a Love Box Leader?
I have grown so much in my understanding, empathy, and love towards all the parties involved. Everyone has a different story of how they got to where they are, and we all want the best for the boys.
The perspectives are very different (various foster parents and biological family, social workers, and Love Box members), and I don't agree with some of them, but everyone is coming from a good place. I have learned that there are so many different ways to show love.
*names changed to protect privacy