Friday, May 7, 2010

A Steadfast Foster Mother

by Gretchen Lee

This Mother's Day, we'd like to salute Sherry Davis. After nearly 20 years as a foster parent with Aspiranet, Sherry Davis has taken in almost 40 children. For many years, she specialized in caring for hard-to-place teenaged girls -- a difficult niche for agencies to fill, because many foster parents feel unprepared for dealing with the demands of adolescence.

"There’s hardly anybody that will take teenagers. The whole thing is that they’re always right and you’re always wrong anyway. That’s a teenager. So it’s really hard for them to keep families. Sometimes, when I took the older kids it was like, 'God, what am I doing this for? I don’t need the abuse,'" she says. "But then some little thing will happen, you think 'Well, this is the reason I’m taking them'."

"One little girl I had -- she was really good if you could keep her home," Sherry recalls. "So we finally got her to where she wouldn’t run off as much. And then she would tell me, 'Well, you know, I’ve never had the nurturing you give me.' Then you think maybe you are doing something."

Two of the first children she fostered were each eight years old when they came to live in her home. One stayed in Sherry's home until she was 17 years old. The other stayed until she turned 15 and was reunited with her mother. Both of the girls have remained close to her even after leaving her care.

"They’re both just like my daughters," Sherry says. "The one that left when she was 15 -- she’s got a baby who is a year old now. She comes back and sees me all the time. She's a single mom. She works all the time, and she's doing really good with her baby. The other girl has just married, and visits often, too. Especially with her background, I was always worried about her." Sherry says. "When I got her at eight years old, she was really torn. The bad thing about getting them at eight years old is that it's hard to get their trust because they've been tossed around and lied to. But she's come out of it," Sherry says. "She's always been really good with kids, and now she works at a school with handicapped kids. She's doing really good."

"Aspiranet has always been real good with me. If I have any problems, they’re usually always there. Just like one of my teenagers, we were butting heads, and so they took one of the social workers and set up a training just for me. When I first got babies, I didn’t have anything, so they kinda got together and we all got around and gathered up stuff so I didn’t have to buy it all, and they’re just always there if you need anything. My social worker’s very good. In fact she’s real close to me. If I need anything, I can call the office, because they all know me. I mean, I’ve been there so long. And all I have to do is put a call in."

Currently, Sherry is foster mom to an 8-month-old boy born with fetal alcohol syndrome and a 19-year-old girl with developmental delays. In consideration of the older girl's special needs, Sherry has retired from fostering teenagers and transitioned to caring for infants.
But even the infants she cares for come with some degree of challenges -- especially the one she's now fostering.

"When I got this baby, he was four months old and he was like a newborn. They kept telling me 'He isn’t going to be able to do this, and he isn’t going to be able to do that.' Well, now he’s crawling! He still can't sit up because he doesn't have enough muscle structure, so we have to help him build up his torso to where he can sit. I put him in a high chair and I give him little Cheerios to pick up, because he also has a problem bending his little fingers, his joints are so stiff , and his physical therapist says that will help. They told me that with his condition he would probably never be able to do a whole lot. And I said, 'Okay, we'll see.' Because with my babies and my kids, I always work with them."

Sherry's ability to meet every challenge, and her dedication to nurturing and raising so many foster children over the past few decades makes her an outstanding foster parent. You inspire us, Sherry!!!

Happy Mother's Day to all the hardworking and dedicated foster mothers who are also making a childhood brighter. Your commitment does not go unnoticed. You have touched so many lives and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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