By LSSNCA volunteer blogger, Maicie Jones
Experiences from when we are young can have a lasting impact on our lives. This was the case with Shavonne Bowman. When Shavonne was a little girl, her grandmother actively helped vulnerable children as a foster parent. Later, as a teenager, when Shavonne’s cousin, a mother of two, went missing, a foster parent took in her cousin’s children and raised them so that they were able to have a relationship with Shavonne and the rest of their biological family.
As Shavonne grew older, she knew that she wanted to play a role in the lives of at-risk kids. After her plans to open a group home for children in-need fell through, Shavonne started to consider the possibility of becoming a foster parent herself. She and her husband already had four biological children, but they felt that they had space both in their hearts and home for more.
They started by fostering young children, under the age of their biological kids. But as their existing family grew older, they began taking in teens. “It’s been a growing, learning, loving experience,” Shavonne said.
Many of the children she fostered had faced trauma and needed someone to listen to them. “I always try to listen and to treat the children as individuals, not case numbers. After being separated from their loved-ones, foster children need to feel included.” Shavonne made sure her foster kids had the opportunity to participate in sports and attend prom; she even included them in family vacations to places like the Bahamas and Cancun.
Since 2008, Shavonne and her family have fostered a total of twenty-six kids. The goal of foster care is to eventually reunite children with their original families. Shavonne found this to be a “trying experience” at times because of the attachments formed between a foster child and her family. Over the years, she has stayed in contact with many of the children whom she has fostered.
“I only have good things to say about LSSNCA,” Shavonne said. “They have been an amazing resource during my time as a foster parent and their staff has gone out of its way to help me, my family and the children.”
“Being a foster parent has been a joyful, loving, rewarding experience and has made me a better person and a better parent,” Shavonne added. And as for the children she’s cared for, much like Shavonne’s early experiences had a big impact on who she became, Shavonne hopes that the time these children spend in her home will help to move them to a better place in their lives and a more stable future.
Needless to say, this beautiful family has celebrated many milestones, birthdays, and graduations together!
*LSSNCA provides foster care training, licensing and placement for families opening their hearts and homes to Unaccompanied Refugee Minors. These URM youth have fled situations including war and violence and have no where to turn. Many of the youth in this program are teen mothers and teen boys. If you are interested in welcoming a refugee youth into your home, please fill out our foster care inquiry form.