During Foster Care Month, Department of Human Services (DHS) Child Welfare Division recognizes excellent Oregon foster families like Matthew and Frank
BEAVERTON – Children need to be able to trust their feelings when it comes to safety and stability. When children are placed in foster care, they may worry that they are unwanted or unsafe, which makes it hard to trust. A couple in the Portland metro area takes the responsibility of being a welcoming foster family seriously.
When Matthew and Frank first signed up for foundations training, they had planned to become adoptive parents. “We have been together 15 years,” said Matthew, a small business owner. “We made a list early on of our goals and had done everything on our checklist except to start a family.”
The couple has now been a foster family with DHS since 2014. In their house, children are not “fostered,” but instead immediately find a welcome home and a family.
As Matthew sees it, “the minute they come to our door, whether they are there for 24 hours, 2 months, or 2 years, they are our kids and are treated as our family.”
By the time a child wakes up from their first night in their new home, framed photos of themselves are on the shelves and on the walls. If needed, new clothes hang in the closet, and favorite toys are placed in easy reach. “Family” extends beyond the household, too. Frank and Matthew have arranged regular dinners with a child’s siblings and have also reached out to extended family to help grow their children’s safety net.
Matthew and Frank are also generous in their dedication to community. Through their small business, they annually sponsor Beaverton’s LGBTQ pride festival, and help ensure the event is inclusive of youth and families. In addition, for the past two years, they have hosted an annual toy drive for children in care at different metro area DHS offices, in 2019 distributing over 200 toys to the Hillsboro branch.
Greg Holgerson, the couple’s former caseworker, points out that in addition to their commitment to children in care, Matthew and Frank have a deep understanding of the special bonds between children and their caseworkers. Discussing the toy drive, Holgerson added, “the most amazing part is they requested these toys for children be chosen and gifted by the caseworker.”
To their DHS certifier, Dishanta Kim, the couple are amazing. “They understand the trauma that children in care go through and do their best to give them “normal” family experiences while with them. Whether kids are with them for a night or a year, I know the kiddos in their care feel loved, supported and safe!”
Read more about how Oregon Department of Human Services honored foster parents during National Foster Care Month with a no-contact barbecue, and how they’re bringing art to young folks in foster care.
To learn how you can support foster kids and families, go to Every Child Oregon.