May was National Foster Care Awareness Month, and it is foster parents who take on the ministry of caring for children in the foster care system. Gary and Trish Galbraith are foster parents who work through the Diocesan Catholic Children’s Home (DCCH)’s foster program, having fostered nearly 20 children since completing their training in 2015. Approved on the 28th of May that year, the Galbraiths have been fostering children in need for the past eight years.
In 2014, Mrs. Galbraith, who was working for Children’s Hospital, was caring for a patient from China. The lady who had taken him worked for an organization from China that helped children to get adopted overseas, and, after hearing his story, Mr. and Mrs. Galbraith began to look into adopting him as they and their family had felt that “God put it on their hearts.” While he ended up being adopted by another family, this was the catalyst that drove the Galbraiths to pursue the training to become foster parents with the DCCH. “We knew we had made the right decision that, yes, God was tugging on our hearts about fostering or adopting — not necessarily for this boy, but we were able to find out that it was full circle … that’s when we were praying about everything,” said Mrs. Galbraith. “That’s when our eyes were opened about teens and kids here that need foster and adoption, and that’s when we looked around into places and found DCCH.”
To the Galbraiths, connecting with the families of the children they care for is their “favorite part” — “to help the kiddos and to know that when they go back home, they have hopefully taken something from your house, but it’s great when you can stay connected,” said Mrs. Galbraith, “it’s great when you can have the families be part of your family as well, even when you don’t adopt the kids … if you really care, and you build a bond, then hopefully it’s something that you can keep. Or, at least them to know that if they need something that you guys are there.”
Foster parents are something that is “very, very needed,” according to Mrs. Galbraith, “We can’t all do everything, but we can all do something.” Those who can’t adopt can foster, and those that can’t foster can do respite — “everybody needs a break and that gives kids somebody else to talk to and have somebody else care about them.”
“You hear it all the time,” said Mrs. Galbraith, “people saying ‘oh, I can’t do that because I would get too attached’ (referring to foster children eventually leaving the home) … but, that’s exactly the purpose, to get very attached and let them know that you’ve loved them that much.” Ron Bertsch is director of Therapeutic Foster Care/Adoption at DCCH. According to Mr. Bertsch, DCCH received 4,694 referrals for children needing a foster home last year. As of early May, DCCH had already received 1,854 referrals during this calendar year.
Anyone interested in learning more about DCCH’s foster care program, or other opportunities to help children in need, may contact Mr. Bertsch at (859) 331-2040.