A Happy Homecoming:
Having spent some time in the foster care system as a child, Casey was deeply aware of the need for children in the same situation to have a home that is safe, stable and welcoming. After learning the ropes of parenthood with their daughter, he and his wife, Joni, decided to foster their first child.
While the Deytons enjoyed having another child in their home, they were also committed to helping their foster placement reunite with his biological family when the time was right.
“We firmly believe that the best place for a child is with their biological family if that’s at all possible,” says Casey. “[Some] parents are just not going to be capable of taking care of their children full-time, but there’s a lot of instances where they just need education and support.”
At first, the Deyton’s foster child wasn’t receiving any visits from his biological parents due to the State being too overwhelmed to provide the supervision and transportation needed. Knowing that reunification likely wouldn’t be possible without the right help, the Deytons turned to WinShape.
Sharita Austin, a WinShape Homes Foster Care Case Manager, stepped in and immediately started providing the support these families needed so they could begin building a relationship and taking steps toward reunification. This included supervising visits so that the Deyton’s foster child could spend a few hours with his parents each week.
“For them to be able to start working their plan and being able to see their kids…you saw the encouragement in the parents’ eyes, and that gave them the push to keep going,” says Joni.
The child’s biological parents’ biggest concern had initially been whether or not their son was receiving love from day to day. After the visits began, they could see first-hand that he was being cared for by the Deytons, and that gave them the reassurance and motivation they needed.
Once the biological parents had completed the work required to reunite with their son, the Deytons received the call; it was time for their foster child to return to his family.
“The day that we got a call for reunification, it was rather hectic,” recalls Casey. “It was at the latter part of the day, and they told us he needed to go home that night. We wanted to spend some time with him as a family, and then also we have our two biological children that we had to pass on that communication to.”
As soon as Sharita heard the news, she immediately drove to meet the Deytons – in a parking lot at 7:30 p.m. – so that she could help make the exchange as smooth as possible for both families.
“This was probably one of the best foster parent [and] birth parent relationships that I’ve seen,” says Sharita. “We felt good about him going home because his family loved him and they had did the work. He’s safe and he’s home, and he still have a relationship with the Deytons.”
Joni says that she is still in communication with the biological mom, and the two of them even meet at the park from time to time. She attributes their positive relationship to the connection WinShape helped foster.
The Deytons took a three-month break from fostering before jumping right back in. Their kids were excited and ready to welcome someone new into their home. Currently, the Deytons have their second placement, and it’s moving along toward reunification as well.
“There’s not some type of special factor that makes someone a foster parent,” says Joni. “The special thing is Jesus, and if you can say yes to Jesus then He can equip you and give you the ability to be able to do the day to day. When WinShape stepped in and helped us do that, it’s what made the difference.”