This is the first in a series that dispels myths about becoming a foster parent.
“You don’t need a fancy home or a lot of money. Kids need love, stability, and safety.” – Lou Grow Miller, foster parent
What do you need to foster a child or youth? A loving, safe, and stable home. And that’s exactly what the Grow-Millers had.
Lou Grow and Michael Miller both knew they wanted to have a family together when they got married in 2007. Lou worked in social services and was all too familiar with the need for loving foster homes. When they were ready to grow their family, Lou and Michael started going to classes to be able to foster.
“Within three or four months we were approved to be foster parents. Probably three months later, our daughter was placed with us,” said Lou.
“They brought her in a car seat and placed her on my dining room table,” Michael said. “I walked over, looked at her, she looked at me and smiled, and that was it. There was before that moment, and after that moment.”
The Grow-Millers learned a lot about raising a child through their daughter, both through resources available to them and real-life experience. Foster parents are eligible for specialized trainings, medical and dental care, childcare coverage, educational support, quality pre-K, reserved after-school program slots, respite care, financial support for the child, and a network to lean on.
“You always see on TV the love a parent has for a child,” Lou said. “You think you know it and understand it. But once you have that child in your arms, it totally changes, and you buy into it.”
After over two years of fostering, the Grow-Millers were able to adopt their daughter. The goal of foster care is to ultimately reunify children with their family of origin, but when that can’t happen, adoption can provide a loving, permanent home.
The family also accepted a boy into their home as a foster child, who they eventually adopted as well. Lou and Michael know that not only have they enriched the lives of two children, but also changed their own for the better.
Five thousand children and youth are in foster care in Philadelphia. They need foster parents to provide safe, loving homes—especially for older youth.
It can be a challenging journey, but it’s a rewarding one as well. So step up and make the call, and know that you’ll have help along the way.