You Know You’re a Foster Parent When… | A Colorado Foster Care Series (2023)


What’s it really like to be a foster parent? Watch this video hosted by Foster Source to hear from three Colorado foster parents as they share common experiences, unexpected surprises and the resources they lean on for support.

To find more foster parent resources and watch future episodes in our Colorado foster care series, “CO4Kids Live: The Arena” visit

CO4Kids Live "The Arena," is a partnership between the Colorado Department of Human Services and Foster Source. To watch more episodes, visit:


Hi everyone, my name is adrian cooper and I'm the foster care and adoption, recruitment and retention communications specialist here at the colorado department of human services.

I want to welcome you to the second of several online conversations we're having with foster parents called the arena, we're partnering with foster source to bring you the series as an opportunity to connect share real stories and struggles and proactively seek support today's discussion is called, you know, you're a foster parent when and will center around the common experiences of foster parents.

And the unexpected surprises foster parenting, brings we know that the pandemic continues to present unique challenges for foster parents.

So I want to share a few resources today.

In addition to foster source the colorado state foster parent association families together and fostering great ideas as well as your own county or child placement agency are all great organizations to go to for support right now.

These organizations can all be found on our website

So without further ado, I want to welcome back the host for this series, renee bernhard, the founder of foster source.

Welcome back renee.


So much adrian I'm excited to be back hosting, the second in our series speaking with foster parents and really having vulnerable conversations with with our foster parents, my husband, and I were foster parents for adams county.

We adopted through adams county.

And we are the founders of foster source like you said, we are really excited and honored to be partnering with you for this series today, I'm excited to welcome three foster parents from across the state.

We have kiana edwards joining us.

She fosters for kids crossing and she lives in aurora, colorado we have horatio booth.

He fosters for courage community foster care and he lives in denver.

And we have manuel padilla emanuel lives in arvada and fosters for kairos let's start with some quick introductions kiana.

Why don't you go first tell us just a little bit about yourself, how long you've been fostering and how many kids you've had so hi I'm kiana.

I've been fostering for about four years.

I originally started fostering because the love I had for children.

And it grew for kids that needed my help so that's.

What jumped me right in great horatio? How about you, hi, mom, I'm, horatio, uh, I've been fostering for about five years since 2015.

We did take a hiatus for about a year and a half my wife.

And I we did ivf.

So we have a one-year-old soon to be two, and we actually have two other fosters foster kids who are about who are one year.

One-Year-Olds as well we've had about 17 foster kids in our home and we're.

We just like fostering trying to help kids as much as possible.

We've always had the aim to foster to adopt.

And hopefully in a few months, we'll have two one-year-olds of our own addiction.

Yeah, amazing.

It is busy and horatio's house manual.

Welcome to the panel tell us a little bit about yourself.

Thanks renee.

Well, I'm a young single foster, parent, um, it kicked off with kinship first.

And then I became kinship certified.

I started off with seven children right off the bat, um and a total of nine children.

So far I did started with fostering in 2018.

So about two and a half years give or so, um, I love working with the lgbt community, um.

And so um, it's, really great.

Currently, I have a total of four teenagers in my home ages, 14, 15, 16 and 16., amazing amazing, I'm so excited to just dig in and talk to you all about so many things kiana, let's, let's, go back to you for a second.

I know that you've mentored newer foster parents over the last few years.

Can you tell me some of the things that happened to you or other foster parents that you feel like are unique to the foster care experience kind of like that in the grocery store are these all yours? Um, that's, exactly what I experienced on a day-to-day basis, um based on the title, you know, you're a foster parent.

When they ask you that question are they all yours? Your hands must be full and it's like, yeah, you want to dig in and give us a hand.

So for sure, and how do you handle that? Because I experienced that too not just that are they all yours, but people kind of wanting to know their story interested in their history.

Why they're in foster care and we know as foster parents, that's, private, we don't want to share that that's not our story to tell how do you handle that? Um, I kind of shield them from asking too much personal information and not giving them too much information to where they want to keep asking, um specifics on why the kids are placed in foster care.

So, yeah, that makes sense.


Have you had similar experiences? Yeah, I I have, um for me.

Personally, I know my co-workers have asked quite a bit.

Sometimes they ask, you know, how do I do it? Some of them have kids of their own and they're they're somewhat struggling as new parents.

And you know, they always ask for tips.

And when I tell them that, um, you know, we've had age ranges from one all the way up to 16., uh, they think that we're crazy to be to have that.

You know that that crazy, uh, age range, or you know that difference we also have a 17 year old of our own.

So add that to the dynamic.

And you know, there are a whole bunch of different things that come into play manual what's your biggest, you know, your foster parent win that you experience.

Well, I normally have a big group.

So when we go to a restaurant, um, we normally have to have two tables or a massive table together.

Um, I get these are all your kids.

And I gladly say, yes, they are.


I have great relationships with all my kids that I really really enjoy from day.

One, um, most of them did start off as my kinship.

So I've already had that connection of that relationship.

But we did take.

I did take ten kids to disneyland.

We four coveted, um, we did.

I got questions everywhere.

We went, um, compliments on how well they behaved.

And while you got some respectful kids and it's just really really neat, I don't usually go into definitions about their stories.

Toughest thing for me.

I want to say at first was kinship, because every single one of my family members wanted to know about what was happening what's going on with the case, um.

And I gladly got to say, I'm, sorry, I don't get to share that and um it's, not again, like what you said, it's, not my story to tell, um.

And because I do work with teens, they have a voice.

And I let them know they have a voice, um.

And so I prompt them to want to be able to do what they uh.

They want to with their story.


And so yeah, I'm excited for it and thankful for it and uh, it's it's, a great time.

That's, awesome, that's, awesome.

I would say, you know, you're a foster parent when your schedule is full of appointments.

So let's talk a little bit about what that looks like kiana for you.

I think you're a single parent is that right? Yes.

So how does that look for you between therapy appointments, doctor's, appointments visits, how do you manage that? So for one, I keep my hair braided that cuts down time on me, no I'm, just kidding.

Um, it it's.


I have, I always say it takes a village, and I definitely have a village behind me so single in status, but um community and helping and blessing.

So, um.

And now with prove it has made it extremely difficult, because you can't just take all of the kids with you, you know, I have to bring in staff to come sit with the kiddos while I go and take one kiddo to an appointment.

Um, I recently took in a sibling group of four ranging four kids under six and under so um, yeah, that's been a lot of different challenges.

And you know me having to ask for a lot more help, um, like I said with covid, it has really put a damper on my hamper because normally it's me.

And my I call it my daycare crew.

We will go any and everywhere, but you know, with covet we have to kind of slow down.

They can't go, you know to the appointment so asking for more help, um is definitely pertinent, but we've definitely made it work.

It's, not always easy, but we make it work.

That's, awesome, mauricio.

How do you and your wife handle it? I know, like we said you foster for courage.

So you probably lean on your agency quite a bit for help too.


We do, um.

We we're lucky in that.

Of course, I I have my wife, and she is pretty helpful.

She's, pretty much set up a mini date here in the basement for for this time, kovid where the kids go downstairs, they have all these toys, and they play they're little ones.

So they don't need a whole lot to keep them occupied.

Everything is pretty much new, um.

And then in terms of, you know, being able to go to appointments.

We, you know, we we trade off.

Sometimes she's got something important that she needs to do.

And so I'll, take the kids or vice versa and I'm lucky in that.

I've been working from home for about maybe three or four four years now.

So that helps as well.

So I could be in the middle of a meeting and being able to mute myself and put, you know, hide the camera and go outside and feed a little one while the meeting is going on.

So we've been lucky in that regard, awesome, awesome manual.

It does take a village.

We all know that and that's part of what foster source does as well as the other agencies that adrian mentioned like the csfpa and families together.

What type of supports have you accessed that you have found to be helpful as a foster parent? Well, my main resource is foster source.

And I can't.

Thank foster source enough for the assistance and to help on the spur of the moment, um on anything possible that was necessary.

And, um, there was a moment I had to have a new bed and foster source.

I gave a call gave an input on it requirement.

It was literally here in like a day and a half.

And so those things those resources that foster source provides is amazing, um, I try to keep the kids connected together.

But, um, also, I want to say, it's, elevations, um, I do believe is the other ones that keep siblings together.

And I do have a lot of sibling groups that are separated from each other.

But I try to keep them together as much as possible.

Yeah, you're talking about elevating connections, that's.

Another nonprofit that does a lot of work around groups.

Yes, they are incredible and you're, right, that's so important to keep siblings, connected.

Absolutely one of I think the greatest resources that I have is that I've experienced this my personally in my life.

I grew up in foster care since I was three on my own at 16 and a half, um.

And I think being able to relate to them in an aspect and be able to teach them opposite of everything.

I was taught because I wasn't taught anything.

So I know how important it is to get the resources to be able to get them moving in the right directions.

Um, children's is fantastic, um, because I work with transgender children, um and I'm so excited and grateful for that opportunity that children's provides a safe comfortable environment environment for my children as well.

I wish I could say I have that big, huge family behind me.

I have the family.

I created, um, yeah.

The created family.

I do my best friends.

I have my five people.

I can call on a dime of a dozen, and they will pick up my phone call, um, no matter the time of night.

So those are my resources, kiana what's missing as far as resources or supports or services that you feel like would be helpful.

Um, I would say, I know here lately I've had, um throughout the course of my years of fostering.

I've had a lot of kids go back home and reunite with family.

I think the therapy for both foster family and bio family to get through that is helpful and reconnecting us as units is beneficial for the kids mainly and for both, um parents, because not only do we need resources for us as foster parents.

I feel that, um, we are resources as well.

You know, we've had these kids for, um some time.

I know some of the kids I had for a year.

You know, so I would be the best resource for them to come to if they needed to know, you know how to tuck them in, or you know, just basic things.

And I think we should try to create create more relationships with bio families and foster families for the kids benefits.

Absolutely, I want to ask you and horatio, both as you both have biological children as well, let's talk, a little bit about what that looks like, I know for me as a foster parent.

We really didn't think about what it would mean to our bio parents.

We thought or our bio kids, we thought, oh big deal.

They have to share their toys.

It ended up obviously being so much more than that.

We were quite naive.

When we first went into it, how have you helped your bio children, not only with having to share your time? But also those times when there is grief or secondary trauma involved, how do you help your your children process that? So I know I've I've had friends who've been in fos who've had parents as foster parents, um.

And they've mentioned to me that you know growing up, you know, they didn't really get as much time as they thought they they should have gotten with their parents.

And because of that very reason, my wife, and I have made it a note to try our best to you know, give as much time to our by bio kids, as as we would any other foster child, because you know foster kids come in they've got trauma.

They've got a lot going on, and you try to hug them.

And you know, be there for them as much as possible.

Try to be there when they're crying, whenever you know they have that, you know, they're they're feeling down, and you want to help as much as possible.

And sometimes that has the effect of making by bio kids feel neglected.

And we've we've tried our best to, you know, try to make sure that our 17 year old or one year, old, don't, don't feel that way kiana anything to add, um, yes, um.

I think it's, very very important in my household that I keep an open communication with my kids.

And even before I started, you know, helping fostering.

I used to be the team, mom for basketball squad.

So I've always had that role of helping other kids.

So my kids were very aware from a young age that this is kind of what I do.

This is what our family does and they enjoy it.

So I make them, um a part of everything.

And I also explain to them that, you know, these kids are lacking where you guys have been blessed.

And so instead of shielding them away, I encourage them to help with every pro step of the process.

And I think that has been beneficial because they feel, you know, my six-year-old, she thinks she's a teacher and so that's her role.

She helps the littles with school, you know, and that when they have a role, they feel important still, you know and that's my biggest thing, but I also too have, um adopted a thing where I do.

I used to do it with my kids when they were younger.

I give them their special day.

And so each kid had a day with just me to themselves, and you know, whatever they want to do.

I make it about them that whole day, you know, and so that really helps them understand, and we get to talk and communicate awesome manual.

What do it you wish? What do you wish you had known when you started fostering, um, that's, a tough one.

I mean for me, for example, I I wish I would have known how much I would actually love the bio family and how much they would become endeared to me, um and how much you fall instantly in love with the child.

How about you that is a very good one, um being a single guy and never having children and then going to seven children all at once, um was amazing.

It was definitely a lot of work.

But what really was my most thing was when they did go back home, um, it was really hard to handle.

Um, I thought like okay, I'm just gonna help them out they're gonna get together they're gonna get their stuff together.

Then they're gonna go home.

I didn't know, the type of connection would be that way or how much of a trying to not cry, sorry, how much of an impact or connection you create with them is quite the biggest blessing ever and um, they really call you still.

They ask you questions, even their home, even though they're home that they call me up all nights and all that as a whole and um, they, you know they depend on you still, no matter what even going back home.

It doesn't make a difference.

And that is the greatest joy to me, because I didn't have a father growing up or a mother.

And I kind of got to be both and be able to have those tough conversations with them.

And you know, be serious about a lot of things, but then have great moments and memories.

And you know, taking 10 kids to disneyland it's, still the thing that sits in the back of my head, but they had never seen the beach before they'd never been outside of colorado before, um, you know and creating those experiences were just amazing kiana.


Talk about some misconceptions about fostering.

How often have you heard what a saint you are or an angel you are or a hero? Um, I think I'd be rich.

If I if I got a coin for every time, I hear that, um, but there are a lot of misconceptions that even recently that I've heard, um that we want to steal people's kids, you know where, um there's, just a lot of, you know, bad things that you hear about foster parents, um.

And I've never met one personally, um.

So I think that's one of the biggest misconceptions that I hear, um for one, the one that we're saints and we're angels, because we do do great work, um we're, not perfect we're.



We just have.

I I call us a little crazy because we take on extra responsibility, um.

But for me, I love it.

Um, I love the loud house.

I love the craziness.

I love, um, the, you know, I love the noise.

I love it.

All, um.

But at the same time, you know there are times where you're like what did I get myself into, you know, um, and I think that's just the human side of us.

But at this, you know, at the the next moment, it's, just like, oh, look at them, they're so happy, you know, so it's a mix mixed emotions at the end of the day.

I think the pros outweigh the cons, um for me, every single time.

How about you horatio same question? So I I'd like for the kids to, you know, get that psychological support.

Sometimes you have kids who come into your home that they've gone to through so much trauma that you know you need to take them to therapy for an array of different issues, sometimes it's helpful, sometimes it doesn't last long enough for them to really get anything from it.

So like speech therapy, for instance, or you know, helping them to be able to walk to to eat properly, definitely manuel.

What about you? I would say to be able to allow us as foster parents to teach the bio parents think they wouldn't be in a situation if they were educated enough to learn how to be able to provide for their children.

I think sometimes we are expecting them to know certain things when they have never been educated on some of the things that we've been educated on, um, some of the stuff that I would pertain towards too is the lgbt community.

And with transgender children, most bible parents who struggle with that or have issues with that don't have any resources that explain that to them or help them to understand.

And they think sometimes us as people like, uh as foster.

I would say that is very open to me.

My greatest goal is to educate and on how to handle a child who is transgender or openly, gay or non-binary or lgbt community, plus, um.

And I just think we need more resources that can help bioparents who are old school who were never taught anything or are not as open to what the community is today.

Great answer.

Great answer.

I want to ask you guys when you think back about all of your experience as a foster parent.

I want to know if you can share with me a story from your experience that inspires you to continue to foster.

I would say, um, I had a situation where a foss or not a foster mom, a biological mom actually, wrote a letter to me, um on how much she appreciated what I was doing for her children and how well they bring, you know how? Well behaved they are, you know, just the different things that she's noticed that they've learned from the home.

And how thankful she was because, um, that means a lot to me, um, because I know it's so hard for them to thank someone taking their children.

And and so for her to think that same person that they want to hate meant a lot to me, and it meant that I was doing something right, um, I am doing something right.

And I would like to keep doing what I'm doing.

I love that and it's so important, because I think sometimes we can kind of be seen as the bad guy because we're the ones caring for their child.

But when we really stop and get to know each other and be vulnerable with each other, they can understand that we're, actually on their side.

Right? We want to help them.

We want them to succeed.

Um horatio have did anything come to mind for you that inspires you to continue.

Well, I wouldn't say, um, anything in particular, I know my wife.

And I we we're in immigrants.

We immigrated to this country.

She she's from uh, germany and I'm from jamaica.

So and not just that we we come from humble beginnings.

So we've always tried to aspire to, you know, try to show the kids more than just what's here in america or what's in front of them, there's, a whole lot more beyond the borders of the us.

So we've always strived to, you know, try to show them as much as as we can to impart as much as we can for sure for sure manuel, I know you've had some amazing experiences in in your tenure as a foster parent does anything come to mind for you that particularly helps inspire you.

I would like to say to see where the kids first started.

And when they are at today, you know, when I get to have two young teenage girls who walk into my home who are 14 and 15 years old, they were responsible.

They had the responsibility of being mom, um and their tasks that they were required to do they.

You know, they came from a sibling group of nine and um, they were moms, and they thought they had to take care of everything.

And so when they came into my home, I was able to teach them to be a teenager.

Instead of being a parent, um and kind of enjoy life.

A little bit very active went for not being in school for three years, straight to, um doing well in high school now and doing their best joining sports.

Um, seeing them at their games is phenomenal and basketball and softball.

And before never thinking about college, the words are that ain't for me and now it's like so do you think I should go to this college, or should I go to that college? So when you get to hear their brain change perspectives over their, um, their time with you and have that dream an opportunity to dream, and that is my going and that's always been my goal.

That's, awesome.

I remember a couple of years ago we did an event with the colorado rapids, and you brought, I swear, 20 kids to that event.

And it was so fun.

You guys, this has been really really fun to talk to you I'm really grateful for each of you.

And for your vulnerability.

I want to end by asking each of you.

If there was one thing, you could tell a new foster parent to encourage them.

What would you tell them kiana? One thing that I would tell a new foster parent is don't, be afraid, um and don't expect them to be like your own children.

You know, allow them to be them.

And you kind of evolve yourself around who they are to cut to help them allow yourself to be vulnerable to their situation, um because it's, not it may not be the same as yours, um, don't say, you understand if you don't, you know, listen more than talking because they can teach you something.

They can teach you how to love them by listening to them.

So that's, one of the biggest lessons I've learned, great advice, great advice, horatio.

How about you? Yeah, for me.

I would say, you know, start with a little bit of patience, a little bit of kindness.

You know, think of think of it be think think of these children as being your first child, you know, take that approach, um, you know, not everyone is the same.

Not not every child is the same.

Everyone, everyone's different.

Even adults.

So these children are new to the world.

They are trying to live in a world.

That is new to them they're trying to learn new things as much as you can teach them they are open to learning it but at the same time don't don't don't forget that they they are not machines you know they they're not you know they're not gonna learn your lesson the lesson that you're trying to teach them right off the bat it will take some time so just have a little bit of patience that's that's that's my that's what I'd love to partake you know I love that manual for you answer that same question for me for a new foster parent who has a queer child I would oh that's fun um I think patience is a big big thing and I actually like what both have said um with don't say that you understand them if you don't understand them don't lie to them, be, truthful with them.

They know, they're not dumb they're, very smart.

They can read people because that's what they've had to do all their life, and they can read when somebody's being fake to them, um.

And then patience be very very very patient with them.

They've probably never had anybody understand them, or even take a moment to even care to understand them.

Um, that is a huge thing.

And I deal with teens they're going to push you away they're going to they may curse at you.

They may go off on you, but they want to know if you're going to stick around.

Why should they trust you? Why do they? Why do they care? Why do you care show them? Why do you care? Why do you really care because there's those stereotypes that? Oh you're, just here for money and you're here for the stuff.

And you really don't care about me and trust me, it is not that whatsoever.

It is to number one, be consistent, be consistent with them.

Number two advocate for them.

They are so used to advocating for themselves having that person to be right next to them to advocate for them that's.

What they want love.

It love.

It great answers.

Thank you guys again so much.

Thank you to our friends at cdhs for allowing us to have this opportunity.

And thank you all for being foster parents.

Thank you for having me.

Thank you for the opportunity.

Thank you so much while we're, waiting.

I just want to say to the other foster parents.

It was so nice to meet you guys, um, especially the different stories like, um hearing.

You know how to accept because I don't know about the, um, the gay community, the lesbian, you know, I don't know about the lgbt community so hearing somebody who's very familiar with that will be beneficial to someone like me, or you know that traveled out of state if I ever, you know, so you guys are a great resource in itself too.

So, thank you guys, and I would definitely love to keep touch base and kind of stay connected.


I commend you guys for being single parents and doing this.

I I know I met.

I met another single foster parent, uh in kansas.

And I don't know how he did it.

But to hear how many kids are in your homes and being single pair, single foster parents, that's, that's, I don't know how you do it definitely all of you.

This is it's hard, hard work.

And when people would always say, oh, you're, such an angel it's like really, no I'm, really ordinary, but just doing really hard work.


It absolutely.

I was gonna say renee.

Thank you for allowing me to be able to meet these other foster parents as well because that's like my greatest joy and why I appreciate foster source so much, because when you get our groups and our clans together and to see 20 different foster homes, you know of people in one group, and we get to share those experiences help each other.

Yes, improve ourselves.

It's, it's, absolutely amazing stunning.

One of the biggest things we didn't really mention here, but self-care is so important and being able to talk to other foster parents is part of that self-care.

And that that is, you know, being able to have that person.

You can just call up and say, my child did this and they'll underpin you, yeah.

I mean, that's, how foster sword started was brian, and I realized that talking to other foster parents was so fulfilling for us.

Hey, guys, just fyi.

Mr from the producers everybody's feeling outstanding about the show.

So everybody is free to go awesome.

Thank you.


Thank you.



How much do foster parents get paid in Colorado? ›

How much does a Foster Parent make at Sample Supports in Colorado? Average Sample Supports Foster Parent monthly pay in Colorado is approximately $2,451, which meets the national average.

What disqualifies you from being a foster parent in Colorado? ›

Disqualification for Becoming Foster Parents

Felony sexual behavior. Felony domestic violence. Felony physical assault or battery. Felony drug-related/alcohol-related offense within the past five years.

How long does it take to become a foster parent in Colorado? ›

The estimated time to become certified with our program will take approximately six months from the time you complete a pre-training interview until your certification caseworker completes your home study.

What TV show has a foster family? ›

The Fosters

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