In 1989, a desperate call from a friend sent Angie Powell across the country from Chicago to Spokane, Washington. Her friend’s illness led to her being unable to care for her three children, leaving the door open for them to be taken into state custody. Wanting to help, Angie stepped in and went through the interstate certification process to become a foster parent. She relocated the three young children to Chicago where they remained in her care for nine months before being returned to their mother.
The situation helped Angie realize the importance of this role. “I think I’ve had 24 or 25 kids all together. I’ve always had a strong village. When I started, I was single, working in the corporate world and traveling a lot. Then I went to having three small kids in the house. My family really stepped in to help,” explained Angie, who is currently fostering two young men ages 14 and 18.
Angie stated, “My goal has always been to help families. Whether that be to help the family stay together or to help them find their way, whatever that looks like. I’ve never stood in the way of family communication or contact and I’ve
always strived to keep the pieces together.”
She added, “The greatest strength of a foster parent is to know when to let go. You have to be able to let go and beready to help the next family.”
Along with the fulfillment that comes with caring for a child, there are some challenges. “Some of the biggest struggles that I have had are kids thinking that no one cares about them. They are usually very scared and untrusting. It can come across as unappreciative and that can really hurt,” she recalled.
As she elaborated, “You just have to keep doing what you are doing and hopefully a light bulb will click and it will help them. I may never know about it, but my hope is that what we do as foster parents will help them to know that someone actually did love them.”
Angie recalled a mother who worked very hard to regain custody of her son but was unable to accomplish this goal. Due to their close bond, the mother hoped that Angie would adopt her son. For Angie, that was not her role. Eventually the mother relinquished her rights. After hearing the story, Angie’s co-worker was extremely concerned about the child. “She just could not sleep at night so she ended up adopting him. He graduated from eighth grade in May and they are doing well.”
After the agency Angie worked with for years discontinued services, she came to UCAN through the recommendation of another foster parent. “The one thing I like best about UCAN is their team. Both of my teens have a case worker and a therapist. I have access to them all as well as a coordinator. I have never had any trouble when I needed to reach out to them,” stated Angie.
To learn more about how UCAN helps to build strong families, please visit www.ucanchicago.org/our-programs/ building-strong-families/.