Today is May 31, National Foster Parent Appreciation Day, and CHAMPS is pleased to shine the light on an amazing foster parent: Valarie from Oklahoma.

Parenthood requires resourcefulness, like finding a McDonald’s with an indoor play area convenient to two moms who live two hours apart and need to meet in a kid-friendly place.  Valarie, a foster mom to two sisters, ages one and three, and their birth mother have found those prime spots.   An air-conditioned play area is key in Oklahoma summers. “It gets pretty hot pretty fast,” Valarie said.

The girls came to Valarie and her husband Eric just before Christmas at ages almost two years old and two weeks old.  Valarie and Eric were nervous, as first-time parents of any kind, and as foster parents concerned about what the birth mother would think of them.  She turned out to appreciate their dedication.  “I was so worried about her liking me but she’s a doll,” Valarie said.  The birth mother is working hard to restore her ability to care for her daughters.  She sees them weekly, in her home or in a meeting place with Valarie and Eric.  At a birthday party she organized for the older girl, Valarie and Eric were able to meet some of the sisters’ extended family.

Valarie realized that traveling to meeting points seemed harder on the birth mom than on the couple, so they volunteered to do more of the driving whenever possible.  The arrangement is working.  The girls are happy and healthy.  “There’s a lot of princess stuff around,” Valarie said with a laugh.  The older girl likes to be outside, blowing bubbles, digging in the dirt, and going to the park and college softball games with Eric.  She loves singing in church.

Valarie and Eric receive good support from the state and state and county case workers.  The biggest challenge was scheduling their training as foster parents around their work schedules, but they were able to get the training done on Saturdays.  The entire experience, from caring for the girls to establishing a relationship with their birth mom, has been extremely worthwhile.  “It’s been a blessing,” Valarie said.  She hopes to remain friends with the birth mother no matter what happens with the girls.

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