I grew up in Fairhope and have fostered 18 children. The last two are my great-nephews. I haven’t had family members until now. My mom always wanted to have foster kids and give them a better life. When she died, she told me, ‘you have so much to offer, promise me you will help someone else along the way.’ I didn’t know what she meant. I later got the training and license and became a foster parent and mentor for young men. I got my first foster child in 1998, he was 12 years old and went to Fairhope Middle School. He had a hard time at first but he had potential so I stuck with him. I sent him to a place that could give him more help than I could give. In the meantime, they gave me two brothers. When my first foster child wanted to come back, they couldn’t put him in with the two brothers. My neighbors across the street had just finished the foster class, and they said they could keep him and I saw him all of the time. I got the third brother of the boys I had. He was the youngest and talked the older two into running away. They were gone for two weeks. DHR said they were 15, 16, and, 17. If they didn’t come back in three days, DHR would write them off and close the case. They don’t go looking for kids. If you run away, you are on your own.
I have fostered 18 children
The next boy they gave me had a seizure when I was driving him home, but DHR didn’t tell me about the seizures. They came to get him and I learned to ask for medical records. I can handle a lot of issues, but not the medical issues that surprise me in the middle of the night. I have helped kids have been through the worst of things. You wouldn’t believe what goes on in homes. I had a white kid who was not allowed to eat except breakfast, lunch, and dinner if he tried to get a snack or something when he got hungry, they told him he was stealing from them. There are troubled kids with so much sadness and anger inside. They are from broken homes, have parents on drugs, have been abused, or something really bad has happened. They need structure, love, and to be taught how to do things. If things go wrong, I tell them it’s okay, we can fix it.
I give my kids a good breakfast, lunch, and dinner, even those things they haven’t had befor. I drove the school bus, worked at Fairhope Intermediate School, and came home and cooked. I worked 27 years at Fairhope Intermediate and taught typing and keyboarding and P.E. I drove the long bus with 80 kids and people said I was crazy for driving a bus and turning my back on that many kids. I also started the original Boys and Girls Club at Twin Beach. I have always helped kids.
These kids have taught me how to be patient. I want everything clean and in order at my house. With foster kids, I have learned to let it go a little bit. They don’t know they have to clean their room and bathroom. I teach them and love them and they eventually learn and adapt. I make them read 30 minutes a day.
My mom taught me how to cook and clean. I now have Stan the Man catering and do small catering jobs and make cakes all of the time. I think all of this is what my mom dreamed of and never got a chance to do. Her friends always tell me she would be so proud of me.”