1. encourage or promote the development of (something, typically something regarded as good). “The teacher’s task is to foster learning”

2. bring up (a child that is not one’s own by birth).

May is National Foster Care Month. I am very excited to do this article because on May 4, 2016, I will be presenting at the 27th Annual Foster Care and Adoption Conference in Albany, NY.

The title of this year’s conference is Changing Landscape. This conference is put on by the Adoptive and Foster Coalition of New York State and is aimed at teaching parents, professionals, doctors, and educators about the ins and outs of foster care.

Each foster child has unique needs and wants. Each has a story to tell. While the stories may be similar, they each vary. Each foster child has a voice that needs to be heard. This conference teaches those who work with foster children about ways to connect with them.

changing-landscapes-20156-AFFCNY-adoption-conference-768x512The Adoptive and Foster Coalition of New York was created in 1975 to educate and support foster families, adoptive families, and agencies associated with fostering and adoption. Through this coalition, there are many opportunities to learn about foster care, adoption, and the difficulties children may have in adjusting to life in foster care and in their forever homes.

How many of you reading this are foster parents or adoptive parents? How many of you have had questions and worries about your children adapting to your home and to the new environment around them? The Adoptive and Foster Coalition of New York is a support network for parents, caregivers, teachers, and even doctors who need a little extra guidance. It also has resources to help families who may need some guidance in caring for and parenting a child with disabilities.

At the conference, I will be telling my adoption story, and my journey to being diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. My hope is that my story will educate and inspire foster parents, adoptive parents, and educators. I am hopeful that I will be able to educate listeners on strategies I found helpful for in my school years to be successful, and strategies I use today in the work environment to be a successful employee.

I think every day should be a day to celebrate foster care, and communities should come together to educate members of society about the intricacies of foster care and adoption. I think the push in foster care should continue to be finding permanency for children. When siblings are involved, strong attempts should be made to keep the siblings together in foster care and in adoptive families.

At the beginning of this article, the word foster was defined. There are two definitions, and although one definition is obvious, “to bring up a child,” the other definition is also true of foster care. When one fosters a child, it is the hope that the foster parents will encourage and promote that child’s emotional and intellectual development. Through fostering a child’s development, trust can be bred, and a healthy, independent child can be born.