Richmond County Daily Journal
ROCKINGHAM —Christmas isn’t always a feel-good time of year for foster children.
A little bit of insecurity, and a whole lot of doubt, can creep into the mind of a young person who has bounced from home to home. Sometimes, it might seem downright unbearable. That’s where a foster parent comes in. It’s the job of a foster parent to try and make that child feel safe.
Kay Dixon has been fostering on and off for 18 years. She’s seen it too many times.
“A lot of kids are scared Santa won’t find them,” Dixon said.
Dixon spoke Thursday afternoon at Discovery Place KIDS in downtown Rockingham, where the Richmond County Department of Social Services staged a Christmas party for 20 foster children. The children ranged in age from newborn to 18 years. They enjoyed dancing, pizza and sweets, and Santa even dropped in to deliver each one a special present.
She adopted two of her fosters, Patsy and Nic. To daten she has fostered 42 children. Her first foster was a family placement, and “I had the room, and no children at the time.”
Dixon, who works at Hamlet Middle School as a Braille transcriber, said “seeing the kids at school, I see what they go through.”
Part of the work of a foster parent is to rebuild a child from the ground up. It isn’t an easy task.
“A lot of kids blame themselves for their position,” she said.
Pam and Jimmy Smith, who have been fostering since February, acknowledged that fostering is not easy.
“It’s had its days, not always easy, but we enjoy it,” Pam said.
The couple have three biological and three foster children. Challenging, yes, but “knowing we’re helping and making a difference in a child’s life” is important, Pam said.
Some foster children will be permitted to have supervised visits with their biological families. Many others won’t have that opportunity, but they are still encouraged to write a letter to them if nothing else than for therapeutic value.
Thursday’s party was a break from reality. One tall, 18-year-old fashionista who remains in the foster system while in college said surviving — and thriving — is all about attitude.
“Life is what you make it,” said the psychology major.
This past year, she received assistance from a Rockingham dealership in getting a car before going away to college. For Christmas, she asked Santa for Santa a 52-inch plasma television and help her be able to customize her burgundy automatic car that she is very thankful to have. Those might be pipe dreams. As a practical matter, all she hopes for is clothes — name brand clothes, that is.
Farron Askins, foster home licensing coordinator, explained that the children submitted their wish lists to her and that they were then distributed out to the Richmond County workers and the local churches that volunteered to fulfill some of the wishes this year. The gifts are then given to the foster parents to give to the children on Christmas morning.