October 20, 2022

Refugee Foster Parents Share Their Experience

Kim and Robert Porter started fostering in 2019. We asked the Porters to share some of their experiences as foster parents with us.  

Why did you become foster parents?  

Robert: We had done traditional foster care previously; it was something we liked. We saw an Instagram post that Catholic Community Services was looking for foster parents and we had just bought a home with a spare room. When I was in my first enlistment in the Air Force, I was advocating for refugees with people who were anti-refugee. And they said, “Where are they going to live, your house?” And I said, “If I had a spare room, of course they would.” Six years later I had a spare room and Kim said something to me and I said, “well if I don’t, I guess I'm a liar!" 

Are there any differences in your expectations versus the reality of fostering? 

Kim: I’m not sure what we expected. We knew we would be getting an older child and I think I was expecting an angsty teenager or some attitude, but our youth who's been with us a year and a half is just a golden boy, really. We got lucky there, I think. He's just the sweetest.  

What were some of your greatest challenges as a parent?  

Robert: One of the bigger challenges was when we picked him up, he didn’t speak any English. We got him right from the airport, so, he knew a few words he picked up from movies and American music. Trying to help somebody navigate a different world is difficult when you can’t talk to them. Now he is very conversational and speaks English very well. He picked it up quickly! 

What is one of the of greatest rewards of fostering? 

Kim: I love watching him play with our kids. We didn’t really know how he’d react to our kids, but he jumps on the trampoline and rides bikes with the kids. Watching him with our kids was so rewarding and I feel like he loves being part of a family, which is something he didn’t have for a long time. It's been good for our kids to see that somebody different from them is such a loving person, that people don’t have to be just like you to be important or valuable. 

Do you have any advice for foster parents? 

Kim: If you have a good relationship with your case manager, it’s really an enjoyable experience, and our case manager really has become more like a friend. There’s a lot of support available. My advice would be to utilize it.  

Many people say that their biological kids are too young for fostering, what would you say to them?  

Robert: We were worried that it would be difficult because it’s such a big age gap, but it hasn’t been an issue. In some ways it's been easier with small children, because kids act the same no matter where you’re from. Part of the reason we wanted to do this is because I was raised in a very different culture, and Kim and I realized it was a big loss for our kids that they weren’t seeing anybody who believed differently or looked differently. That is one of the biggest reasons to do it when your kids are young, so that as they grow older it's normal for them to experience those differences.  

If you're interested in becoming a Refugee Foster Parent, visit our Refugee Foster Care page.