The Stark JFS states that currently, there is a great need for both foster and adoptive parents, and an even greater need for foster and adoptive parents who are willing to accept placement of teenagers, special needs children, sibling groups, and minorities. One couple, Lindsay and Kyle Slutz, has responded to this need and speaks about what it means to open your heart and your home to others.
Lindsay and Kyle Slutz have been foster and adoptive parents with SCJFS since November 2015. They were compelled to become foster parents when they realized how many children need people to care for them. Lindsay says, “We wanted to take those children, regardless if it was for a day, a year, or a lifetime.” Lindsay opens up about how she was never hesitant about becoming a foster parent as she knew for sure she wanted to do it. Kyle admits he was nervous at first as he did not grow up around children, and he had never taken care of kids in the past. After their first placement in December 2015, Kyle states he was “just able to be a dad.” They feel this very first experience assisted them in becoming familiar with the agency, their rules and guidelines, and the processes of fostering and adopting. They were able to adopt their first child in July 2016 and quickly built the confidence to foster more children. They took placement of a sibling group of two in August 2016. Lindsay and Kyle didn’t hesitate to take placement of another sibling in November 2016 and yet another in August 2017, after attempts to keep the children with family failed in both scenarios. Lindsay and Kyle’s main focus has always been to keep sibling groups together. “We went from no children to 5 children in a year,” state Lindsay and Kyle. Fostering siblings helped them “learn how important it is to keep siblings’ relationships intact and what that connection means to the children.” One of their now adopted children comments, “Being able to be placed with and adopted with my siblings made a big difference. I’m the oldest of my 5 biological siblings and knowing that they were safe and being cared for made a difference. I didn’t have to worry about them and could focus on myself.” Lindsay and Kyle could have stopped there, but they realized they had even more in their hearts to give. In November of 2019, they took placement of a 7-year-old foster child. After placement of this child, they learned that he had other siblings in foster care and advocated to keep the siblings together. His brothers were placed with Lindsay and Kyle in January 2020, and they adopted them in July 2020. Lindsay speaks about how individuals cannot take things personally while fostering because the children in the foster care children are facing a multitude of challenges. When asked about the bond they have developed with the children they have fostered, Lindsay and Kyle state, “When children are only in your home for a short time, you have to pour everything you have into them. Your short time with them might be the only time they receive love and kindness. The bond you develop with the children who are in your home long term is easier because you get to make everything all about them. Once you make everything all about the children, meeting their needs and building trust, the bond comes naturally.” Lindsay and Kyle state that they decided to adopt when finding out the children in their care were unable to return to their birth parents. Lindsay says there was no way she and her husband could let them go after growing to love them. While their home is very full with 8 adopted children, Lindsay and Kyle still wanted to share their passion for helping children. They began to mentor a foster child who is a teenage mother. They bonded with this individual, and when she was able to leave her placement in a residential facility, they advocated to take placement of her and her infant child. They were placed in the Slutz home in October 2020. Lindsay and Kyle understand the importance of having communication with the birth parents and families. They say, “They are the key to the children’s past. They can provide you with information about family health, traditions, and culture. It helps the children understand their history. They just feel more complete when they know and understand where they come from.” One birth mother has since had another child who has been able to stay with her. Lindsay and Kyle are a support for the birth mother and frequently babysit and assist her in whatever ways they can. They have also provided many short-term respites, taken short term emergency placements, and mentored other foster families.
One of Lindsay and Kyle’s sons, Brayden, was asked about his experience of becoming adopted into the Slutz home. He entered foster care at age 7 and was adopted at age 9. He tells about how he came from a place that was dirty, and he did not always know where his next meal would come from. When he was placed with Lindsay and Kyle, he says, “it gave me security and helped me become a better person. I knew I was with a family who cares about me.” He talks about he was comfortable with Lindsay and Kyle as his brothers had already been placed with them. Brayden describes his new family as crazy and fun. He states it was difficult at first to transition from the “rules and way of life” of his birth parents to his foster parents, but Lindsay and Kyle provided him with all the things he needed to learn and grow. He reports, “they helped me understand what was going on in my life. This love and attention grew into a bond and eventually into love.”
Are you considering becoming a foster parent?
“Take the plunge!!! It is absolutely worth it. It is hard work, but it’s worth it. There are so many other experienced foster families and case workers to support you through the process. You are never doing it on your own.” -Lindsay and Kyle
Brayden says, “When you give a child, love, security, and affection, it changes their life.”