Foster Parenting A Worthwhile Challenge And A Learning Experience


Penny and Arnold Stonebrink became foster parents after their son befriended a boy in his class who was a foster child.

When his friend was adopted by a family in the Valley and moved away, their son was sad.

"I remember he came home from school and asked, ‘Mom, why can't we do something like that?'"

The Stonebrinks thought about it and told their son they didn't see any reason why they couldn't.

"If parents feel like they have love that they can share, then foster parenting is an important opportunity," said Penny Stonebrink.

After six months of training and paperwork, the Stonebrinks became licensed to foster-adopt.

Stonebrink said she felt supported throughout the application process.

Other foster parents they have met in Payson are part of an informal support network.

"But it is a lot easier to deal with foster children than it is to deal with the state," Stonebrink said. "Although we have some excellent people here in town who are licensing specialists. The DDD (developmental disabilities) office up here is awesome to work with. DDD works hard for these young children, many who are born addicted to drugs."

The Stonebrinks are between foster children at the moment, but they have three of their own children living at home.

"I look at (fostering) as a learning experience for (my children). They are given the opportunity to give to these other children. It really shows (my children) the opportunities they have been given."

In one recent experience, they opened their hearts and home to seven children when a telephone call they received asked them to take only two.

"In the conversation, we were informed that there were other siblings," Stonebrink said. Two were in a shelter, two were in one foster home and one was in another foster home.

"Our goal was to get them all back as one group for whatever length of time they would be fostered. In this case, that was the best thing, so that they could know each other."

The seven children were from out of town, and Stonebrink said that is her family's preference because Payson is a small town and sometimes running into parents is not fun.

Eventually the judge ruled that the children were to go back to their biological mother.

The reward is in giving these children, who need love so desperately, a stable lifestyle, even if it is for only a short time.

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