LAURINBURG — Foster care can seem like a difficult road to navigate for children and foster parents. But an advocate for foster parenting was in Laurinburg on Wednesday to help ease that journey.
Donna H. Foster, an author with more than 30 years as a trainer of foster and adoptive parents, visited with parents, children and staff with the county Department of Social Services at the DSS office in Laurinburg. Foster also read selections from her book, “Shelby & Me,” about a puppy in need of adoption.
“Fostering is a huge undertaking, but it’s also a gift to the child and it’s a gift to that foster parent,” said Rebekah Oxendine, a county foster care social worker. “We’re really hoping that things like this will grab peoples attention.”
Foster, who serves as a consultant to agencies and associations throughout the United States, said she penned her latest book to help children going through a tough time in their lives.
“The reason I wrote this book is because I was a foster parent for 17 years and I just noticed children have a lot of gaps in their lives,” Foster said. “They had a lot of questions, thinking that they did something wrong that caused them to leave their family and I kept explaining and explaining, out of that came Life Books.”
Foster decided to use her golden retriever, Shelby because she knew the children would relate to the animal and it was a true story about her adoption.
“They will trust animals,” she said. “So I had this dog, Shelby, and I took what I had dealing with children and I transposed them onto Shelby.”
During the reading, Foster gave each of the seven children in attendance, the series of Shelby books that have been evaluated for children second through fifth grade.
The children can add photos, or recreate their lives in one of the books in order to document their past, according to Foster.
“This is more than just building a photo album it will answer questions the child may have, helping the child not feel alone and see that there are positives to their situation,” Foster said. “I’m excited because therapists have been using this and even teenagers are using it because they love to color. Mainly, the kids taught me what they need.”
Foster has also written “My Life’s Book; “Team Building: A Workbook for Foster Parents and Social Workers”; and Burnout Protection Trainer’s Guide.
She is a past president of Mecklenburg County Foster Parent Association and of the North Carolina Foster Parents’ Association.
“Children when they’re coming into foster care, it’s at the worst part of their life and the thing is, they need people who could be there for them without judging,” Foster said. “We need people who care that much about children that they’re willing to love them and help them move into adoption.”
For information on foster care, contact Rebekah Oxendine 910-277-2500, ext. 3332
Abby Hackmann can be reached at 910-506-3171.