Some people know at an early age what they are called to do; for Kelly Schultz, that call was adoption. She knew as a child that she wanted to adopt when got older and years later, with her husband, that vision became real. Together they started their life of serving and loving children, being foster parents for over 17 children and adopting three daughters.
Today, Kelly uses her experiences to teach others and spread the word about the need for foster parents, in her area and in her state of Missouri. There are many issues surrounding foster care and adoption that she hopes to help other families with, as well as teaching her own children.
It is important to know that the goal of most foster care children is reunification with their biological families; foster care does not always result in adoption.
Another important lesson that Kelly and her family have learned over the years is that foster families are conspicuous – and will garner unnecessary comments, looks, and questions while out in public. Foster families need to acknowledge that strangers do not understand your family’s background, and therefore it is important for families to talk with their foster children about positive ways to deflect rude comments.
An issue that became open and evolving was communication about race. Kelly admitted that it was a difficult discussion to have and one she should have addressed sooner. She needed to help her children to know how to react. Kelly stated in the Missourian. “One of her classmates called her the N-word. I was heartbroken. I hadn’t warned her, and I felt like as a white mom, I had let her down.”
Also, foster parents need to talk to the children about their biological families and their heritage. It is important for children to have as much information as possible about their culture.
There is no set guidebook for parenting and there are so many more variables in foster parenting. Kelly hopes to use her experiences to guide other families wanting to become foster parents. There is a great need for foster parents and Kelly is hoping to advocate for others to fulfill this need. Kelly reminds all parents that no one is perfect- “We don’t get everything perfect, but we try really hard. When we make mistakes, we apologize, and that’s part of the learning process.”