Jesse and Denise are not the typical foster family, the children they foster always have some type of special need. They saw a need in the foster family system for children with special needs and decided to do what they could to fill it.
“There’s such a huge population of special needs in foster care that don’t fit into the norm of a typical foster family,” said Denise.
Jesse and Denise have three biological, two adopted, and two foster children who are teenage boys soon to be 16. “We have seven kids,” said Denise. “It is crazy, but glorious.” Ages of the children range from 7 to 19 years.
Both of their foster children are in high school. Jesse and Denise’s 14 year old son is able to go into the classroom with his siblings and see what their day is like and help during the school day.
“I don’t know how to describe something that works so well,” said Denise. “They (her children) get each other, they look out for each other. They are each other’s cheerleader, protector, and friend.”
Rainbows has been a source of help for Jesse and Denise. Denise worked at Rainbows for more than 14 years.
“My background of working with Rainbows helped, knowing where to turn to for things such as funding or a question about development,” said Denise. “Or where to turn next, for referrals.”
The family has had the same case manager, Kerri Dixon, throughout their relationship with Rainbows. “She’s very knowledgeable, she’s part of our team,” said Denise.
“They are strong advocates for all their children; biological, adopted, or foster,” Kerri said. Through Kerri’s role as a Targeted Case Manager, Rainbows has been able to provide resources like supportive home care (like respite). One of their foster children also received an iPad, made possible through Rainbows’ Blarney Breakfast fundraiser.
The “aha moments” come often, constantly reminding Jesse and Denise why they began their adventure as foster parents. When one of their children has a breakthrough at therapy and they see it happen, when one of the children recently began drinking through a straw, or when the child that struggled to bring papers home from schools started bringing them everyday.
“I get so excited, because they worked so hard to get there,” said Denise. “Our aha moments are often as they should be because they are our children.”
Rainbows supports foster families, like Jesse and Denise, by guiding them and providing them with necessary resources. Help for foster families is available 24/7 in case of emergencies. Rainbows aims to lend a helping hand to the families served by being a place to turn to no matter what the need is.