by The Clowers Family, a Restore Network foster family
For three years I have searched for the words to explain what the Restore Network has been for our family. The best explanation I can come up with is that Restore is to foster parents what foster parents should be to children. They are our safe place. Our place to be vulnerable. Our place to be scared for our future. Our place to turn when the system fails us.
Restore was literally with us for every step of our foster care journey. Our DCFS recruiter told us to go to the Restore 101 meeting where they answered all the questions we were scared to ask and gave us information we didn’t know we needed.
Before our kiddos came to us, the Restore Network was involved in our case. Helping to make sure that our children and their siblings were placed with Restore Network families so that it would be easier to schedule sibling visits and maintain their relationships.
The night we welcomed the children into our home, Katie was there within a couple of hours with clothes, carseats, blankets and milk. (Because if you don’t normally have kids in your home, you might not have cows milk in your house, lol). She comforted my son and told him she was on her way to see his sister and she would send his love.
When I didn’t have a home church to take the boys to, Katie welcomed us to her home church.
When our agency couldn’t find us a respite family for a weekend to recharge Ashley Alm offered to keep the boys for the weekend and they have not stopped asking to go back.
When, despite the hours and hours of training the Restore Network offered, my son still struggled to accept me as a mother, Ashley Bennett coached me for over a year, providing me with countless bonding activities.
When someone asked my son to draw a picture of something that made him happy, he drew a picture of the church where the Restore Network provided trainings during which my son played with his siblings that were placed in another home.
When the pandemic hit and the world shut down, Restore Network was still hard at work–finding ways to keep families connected through online trainings, modified back to school bashes, meal trains and holiday cookies.
I cannot imagine what our foster care journey would have looked like without the unconditional support of the Restore Network. The directors of this organization are not figure heads pushing papers like you see at some organizations. They have walked the path of the families they support and are walking along side these new families supporting them through every moment of their journeys–making sure foster parents feel confident, educated and supported. They have so much strength and grace that I am not sure they are humans. They have been angels to our family.
Thank you so much for walking this journey with us and being our safe place.