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Taking the Leap: Nichole and Stan’s Foster Parent Journey 

Author: The Buckeye Ranch

For many years, Nichole felt skeptical about becoming a foster parent. Growing up, she had family members who had fostered youth who endured deep trauma, and that experience made Nichole feel hardened to the possibility. Years later, alongside husband Stan, Nichole found herself overcome with tears while listening to an individual in the community speaking about foster care. In that moment ten years ago, she and Stan decided they were going to become that support for kids and began their foster parent journey. 

Nichole and Stan are seasoned parents, with ten biological children of their own. But, as they say, they still have so much love to give. As their kids began to grow older and move out of the house, they found they had the space they needed to open their hearts and home to youth in need. To begin their journey, they needed to become licensed foster parents and turned to The Buckeye Ranch, who provided licensure and service to Nichole’s family members in years past – a full circle moment for her. Nichole says the thing that most drew her to The Buckeye Ranch was the considerable number of accessible training options offered, in-person and online, throughout the year. July 2024 will mark ten years of fostering for Nichole and Stan! Over the years, they have opened their home to numerous youth, and they say a pillar in their foster care journey has been keeping siblings together as much as possible. After two brothers were placed in their care, they learned of a third, younger brother in the sibling group. The youngest sibling had Cerebral Palsy; Nichole and Stan never thought they could care for a special needs child, but knowing the importance of keeping siblings together they opened their hearts to the youngest sibling, Jasper, and they are so glad they did! So far, the two youngest brothers in the sibling group have been legally adopted by Nichole and Stan, and they are in the process of adopting the oldest brother currently. Along their journey, they have also been lucky enough to garner legal custody of their very first foster placement, Cody.  

the importance of connection

Nichole and Stan have learned that connection is incredibly important for them and their children along this journey – both from their community and within their circle of loved ones. While they build new supports within their family for their foster youth, Nichole and Stan have also worked to maintain relationships with biological family members whenever it is safe. This connection, Nichole says, is huge for the kids. When asked about some approaches that have helped, they share that Nichole started a journal with the biological mom of the siblings they adopted, “The journal has been tremendously helpful for our kids to feel connected to their biological family and have a touchpoint that is safe.” 

The support from their community and The Buckeye ranch has also been instrumental for them. They share that The Buckeye Ranch’s Foster Care team has helped provide them with access to community and social events, a sounding board to process through complex traumas, and outside help to support them in providing the proper care for the youth they’ve fostered over the years.  

The Buckeye Ranch Foster Care team works to provide families with a number of events and experiences to build connections, which Nichole and Stan say have been a huge perk. “We have a big family, so it’s hard to do things like go to sports games.” Through partnerships, The Buckeye Ranch can provide accessible tickets to certain events for foster families. The Buckeye Ranch also links foster families to one another through social events and outings like Community Day. They share, “We get to spend time together doing fun things while giving the kids incredible experiences to bond in the community. Those special memories carry us in hard days and will be something the kids remember forever.”  

getting the support that’s needed

Foster parents face many challenges and learnings such as working to understand trauma and care for diverse needs. Nichole shares, “The Buckeye Ranch gives you the support system you need on your foster parent journey. Even if you’re not new to parenting, you’re new to fostering and that transition can feel scary and overwhelming.” She adds, “The Buckeye Ranch is there to hold your hand through every step of the process, both before licensing and after placement.”  

The Buckeye Ranch Foster Care Team makes sure Nichole and Stan know they are never alone in navigating their children’s trauma.  The Buckeye Ranch Foster Care team offers specialized training in trauma-informed care, an approach that recognizes the profound impact of early childhood trauma that can be used to guide responses for foster families in a way that restores hope and provides healing for the youth in their care. 

In addition to on-call crisis support, The Buckeye Ranch also provides robust wraparound supports to all foster care families in the form of case management, continued training in trauma-informed responses, transportation assistance, and even can provide respite care to families needing to take a break. “The Buckeye Ranch has supported us emotionally to make sure we are okay.” shares Nichole, “Just asking, ‘Are you okay?’ in some challenging situations went a really long way.” Additional access to therapy for Nichole and Stan alongside counseling for their foster youth and biological children has also been provided by The Buckeye Ranch, which they share helped in periods of transition for the whole family. 

As part of a larger agency, The Buckeye Ranch Foster Care team has access to many resources and benefits that can be tailored to individual family needs while maintaining a close interpersonal relationship with those served; the team members know you by name and know your story.  

Where will your foster parent journey begin? There is an overwhelming need for new foster families to join our community, with more than 50 youth aging out of foster care without a permanent home each day in the U.S. Can we count on you to be a part of the solution? Learn more and take the steps to become a foster parent today by visiting our website!