The need for foster parents in Dickinson and all of southwest North Dakota is great.
As of Monday there was one open foster home in Stark County, said Debra Trytten, foster care supervisor for Stark County Social Services.
“Sometimes other counties don’t have enough foster homes and they call us and we always need some place for a child to go, whether we have custody or not,” Trytten said. “All kids need a safe place to be.”
When Courtney and Bobby Williams began the adoption process three years ago, they tried to seek out others who had gone through it to consult and talk to, but it was hard.
“After we started the process and realized how much it entailed, we started finding out that different communities were having these orphan ministries and we started reading about them and found out what they were and what they entailed and realized that it would be a great thing to have here for people that are interested in foster care or adoption,” Courtney Williams said.
After having been foster parents for several years, and now bringing three adopted children into their home, the Williamses wanted to share their knowledge and passion for caring for orphans.
“A lot of people think about foster care or adoption and they just have a lot of myths that are misleading and so they don’t really go much further than thinking about it,” Courtney Williams said, adding she has handed out 12 foster care packets in the past two months.
This has garnered more interest for potential foster and adoptive parents, which is just what the area needs, Trytten said.
“They’re a very caring, loving, open-armed group of individuals that really believe that all kids deserve to be in a safe environment,” Trytten said. “They’re willing to provide that until families can get back on their feet. They’ve done a lot for us.”
There are approximately 50 cases of individual children in Stark County, Trytten said.
All potential foster parents must go through 24 hours of training.
“It talks about a lot of the issues that, as a foster parent, you may see,” Trytten said, “which includes abuse and neglect, drug and alcohol (issues), it talks about the needs of the children. It really gives the individual that’s there for the training the opportunity to see, ‘Boy, is this really something that I can deal with, is this really something I want to do?'”
Not everyone can become a foster or adoptive parent, but there are several ways they can support orphans, Courtney Williams said.
“Adoption is not the only thing to do in orphan care,” Courtney Williams said. “We’re also trying to spread the word and get out ideas for people what they can do beyond foster care and adoption.”
Many children are being placed in foster care because of extreme physical abuse or parental drug use, Trytten said.
“In foster care, we come across kids that have — their needs can be so great,” Trytten said. “Their needs can be minimal, but their needs can be so great that — foster parents, we need to give them the opportunity. Boy, is this something you want to do.”
Parental drug use puts children in an unsafe environment, Trytten said.
“We have kids that have been in the environment where they’ve come out testing positive for methamphetamine,” Trytten said. “It’s gotten to the point where we end up doing a lot of hair follicle testing to ensure that the kids’ needs are being met.”
If parents give up custody and no other family members are able to take the child, foster parents can become the adoptive parents of children, Trytten said.
Family members can become foster parents as well, Trytten said. Those in kinship care do not need to take the same class that foster parents do and do not have to be licensed.
They do have to pass a background check and go through a home evaluation.
While it’s based out of Evangelical Bible Church, anyone can become involved with Embrace.
“We hope it breeds interest within the community,” Pastor Tim Privratsky said. “If someone who wanted to inquire about how you go about this — both foster care and adoption — we just want to be a resource.”
There are support groups, book study and classes that Embrace supports, and gives people a chance to meet, mingle and ask questions of adoptive or foster parents, Courtney Williams said.
“We are very encouraging of many within our church to consider foster care and go through the training and be able to be a home that they can place children in,” Privratsky said. “As a pastor I’m thrilled that we would have something like that within our church.”
To learn more about Embrace, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about becoming a foster parent, contact Stark County Social Services at 701-456-7675. ___