The Rewarding Journey of Being a Foster Parent

The Rewarding Journey of Being a Foster Parent

Good Morning, YARNutopia! Shannon (Nadia’s mom), here. 

Many of you may not be aware that Fuad and I are licensed foster parents. We have been working with kids and fostering for three years. We can truly say that it has been a challenging, yet rewarding, journey. It has always been in our hearts to open our home to children in the foster care system. We underwent the necessary process to get licensed in 2020, and we are currently a Level 4, Trauma-Informed Foster home. Our focus has been on, but not limited to, teenagers and/or sibling groups. 

Foster parenting is a role that involves opening one’s heart and home to children in need. This commitment involves the entire family. As you have learned through the years, we have adult children that are married, and we have grandchildren. This isn’t something we have taken lightly. We know that it impacts everyone in our circle – both our immediate and extended family. It is a journey that requires immense dedication, love, patience, and compassion. Being a foster parent not only transforms the lives of vulnerable children, but also has had an impact on us and our entire family. Here, we will explore the unique and experiences of being a foster parent, the challenges it entails, and the substantial positive difference it makes in the lives of children.

One important facets of being a foster parent is consistency in the home. One of the best ways  we are able to provide that, for me, is my ability to work from home and always be available for the children in our care. With being behind the scenes at YARNutopia, Wood Be Fancy, and our other small business, this allows me the flexibility to do that. It also has provided a point of interest for most kids. Nadia has taught many of our teens how to crochet. They have LOVED being able to create. It is a small building block to growing their confidence and self esteem. We are so grateful for this platform and its ability to provide us this opportunity, that we never take that for granted.  

Foundation for Fostering

  1. Providing Stability and Love:

    One of the most significant contributions we, as foster parents, can offer is a stable and nurturing environment for children who have experienced trauma or neglect. We try to create a safe haven where children can heal, grow, and feel loved. We provide stability, support, and a sense of belonging. Being part of our family becomes the foundation upon which these children can rebuild their lives. This is a huge responsibility and one we do not take lightly. In the past three years, we have had several children in our home who have gone on to adoption or reunification. We also have provided respite for other foster parents. The foundation we provided has helped them to cope by having tools to use in their lives well beyond their time with us. 

  2. Fostering Growth and Development:

    We play a vital role in facilitating the growth and development of children in our care. We provide educational assistance, encourage extracurricular activities, and nurture talents and interests. Many of the children are often so entrenched in trying to navigate through chaos that they do not have an opportunity to experience what life is like to BE A CHILD. Here, in our home, they can learn how to actually be a kid. A kid who can build friendships, go to birthday parties, join a sport or activity, do homework. A kid who can begin to find out who they are outside of the life they were living prior to being placed in our care. We do this by providing a structured routine and opportunities for growth in an environment that is calm and loving.

    Fuad and I work to empower children to reach their full potential and have an opportunity to succeed in life. We have witnessed children who were not able to read, LEARN to read. We witness what the simple act of reading can do to open up their world. We have taught teens to drive, how to get their first job, learn banking, try their hand at cooking, and MANY other life skills. These are some of the most basic things we take for granted, but they can be so difficult to maneuver or navigate for a child placed foster care. 

  3. Emotional Support and Encouragement:

    The emotional well-being of foster children is vital for their development. We fill many roles in this area. We offer a listening ear, empathetic understanding, and unwavering support during very challenging times. We work to help children process their emotions, build resilience, and develop healthy coping mechanisms. None of which are easy for a child who has been through so much trauma. Something such as personal hygiene can be a challenge for kids, or even for them to talk about, when they have never had anyone there to teach them.  Through continuous encouragement and belief in these children, we can instill confidence and inspire them to overcome adversity.

    It takes time. Some days you feel defeated. I cannot even count how many times Fuad and I were ready to throw in the towel because this was so difficult. Yet, we wake up every day and keep going. Yes, there are hard days, but there is a bigger purpose.  When you witness pieces of the transformation a child begins to experience in a loving environment, it is a remarkable feeling. There are literally NO words to describe it. 

  4. Long Lasting Relationships:

    Foster parenting is not just about providing temporary care; it is about building meaningful and lasting relationships. Fuad and I have become mentors and role models. We work to create lifelong connections for the children we care for. Even after they leave foster care, the bond between us and the children who have been in our care has been established. We continue the relationship beyond our home, providing a source of guidance and support as they navigate into adulthood. We have always maintained that we are just a phone call or text message away. There is something very special about receiving that text message long after a child has left your care. This past May, one of our teens we fostered reached out to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day. Pretty cool, right? 
  5. Advocating for Children’s Rights:

    Foster parents are also powerful advocates for the rights of children in our care. We have worked alongside case managers, educators, and healthcare providers to ensure the well-being and best interests of the children are met. We advocate for access to quality education, healthcare services, and necessary resources, empowering children to thrive in every aspect of their lives.

  6. Overcoming Challenges:
    Foster parenting is not without its challenges. We have to navigate complex legal systems, cope with the trauma experienced by the children, and adapt to diverse backgrounds and needs. We have experienced how to deal with behavioral issues, mental health challenges, and much more as a result of what children in our care have experienced prior to being placed in our care. However, with resilience, patience, and unconditional love, we begin to triumph over these obstacles, creating a supportive and nurturing environment for the children we care for.

Final Thoughts

Being a foster parent is a remarkable journey filled with love, compassion, and personal growth. It offers an opportunity to make a lasting impression in the lives of vulnerable children, providing them with stability, love, and a chance to flourish. Foster parents create a nurturing environment, foster growth and development, and advocate for children’s rights. That dedication and selflessness can have a profound impact, shaping the lives of children and leaving an indelible mark on their hearts.

Foster care is not for the faint of heart, trust me, this is not an easy path to walk. It can often be filled with frustration, heartbreak, and a myriad of feelings that make you question your sanity at times. Yet,there will be days when all of it will just fall away for that perfect moment when you are having a spontaneous living-room dance party with smiling, laughing children who are caught in the joy of a Bruno Mars song. For those brief moments their trauma doesn’t rule their every second of their day. Instead, they are floating free and thriving in your care. Those are the moments we hold on to. 


To all the foster parents out there, WE SEE YOU! WE understand you! And, WE believe in you!

~Shannon and Fuad 


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How to: Make Cowboy Candy – Candied Jalapeños

How to: Make Cowboy Candy – Candied Jalapeños

Each summer, I love to visit the Farmer’s Market and purchase local produce. Two years ago, we visited a booth where the vendor had jars of  “cowboy candy”. Curious, I bought a jar. Fuad ate it all in one sitting! I vowed to try to make my own version when I had a chance.

Fast forward to today and I decided to finally give it a try. Here is my recipe and tips for making, AND canning, jars of Cowboy Candy.

Let’s get started:

To start, this recipe is based upon 2lbs of jalapeños. You can adjust your recipe to make it more or less as desired. 
Before you begin, please be sure to have your canning jars clean and ready. Wash your jars thoroughly and COMPLETELY rinse. Submerge them onto a rack in boiling water for 10 minutes as your last step of sanitization. 

Recipe:

Ingredients:
Jalapeno Peppers (I used approx. 2lbs or 1kg) I had around 40-50 jalapenos from the farmer’s market
4 cups of white granulated sugar
2 cups of Apple Cider Vineagar
2 tsps of tumeric powder
2 tsps of ginger powder
3 teaspoons of chili powder
Dash of kosher salt

Instructions:
~Remove stems and cut your jalapenos into thin slices. I didn’t measure but approx. 1/4 inch coin slices worked well.
~Combine all your sugar, vineagar, and spices in a pan. Bring this to a rolling boil and cut the heat to simmer.
~Stir until your sugar dissolves and makes a syrup. Add your pepper slices to the syrup and coat thoroughly.
~Mix them completely and bring to a rolling boil once again.
~Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 5 minutes or until your jalapenos soften and begin to darken in color.
~With a slotted spoon, remove jalapenos from your syrup and place into clean, prepared jars. filling up to 1/2 inch from top. Shake and wiggle jar so peppers settle leaving more room to add as needed.
~Once each jar has been filled, pour the syrup over peppers in each jar. Leave about 1/4 inch from top, being sure all are covered.
~Cover and secure lid. Wipe the outside of jar and lid clean because syrup is STICKY!
~Place your secured jars of peppers into a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Jars should pop to insure they have sealed correctly. If your jar lid does not pop, don’t worry! The peppers are still good but storage is best in the fridge and eaten within a few weeks.
~Properly canned jars can be stored in cool dry place for up to a year.

This Cowboy Candy can be served over cream cheese and spread on crackers, over burgers, nachos and more! They are sweet with a punch of heat!

Cook jalapenos in syrup until they darken in color

fill jars with jalapenos. Pack as many as possible into jar.

Cover your jalapenos with syrup and fill to 1/4 inch from top.

Add lids and tighten (finger tight only) before adding them to a boiling water bath.

After 5-7 days your cowboy candy is ready to eat! Perfect over cream cheese as a dip!

Spread it on a cracker for a FABULOUS snack. Sweet and savory with a punch of heat!

Have your favorite person give it a try!

Guaranteed to be a hit!

Thank you so much for giving our recipe a try! We hope our Cowboy Candy is a hit at your home as much as it is at ours! 

Happy Hooking and Cooking!
~Shannon and Fuad 

Thank You

Thank You

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who took the time to read my latest blog post regarding my absence from YARNutopia lately and the next chapter we are heading into with our son Nasir. I have been overwhelmed with so many emotions from the outpouring of love and supportive kind words you left on my posts, in my messages, and the texts I received all day.

There is no way for me to individually reply to all of you, but just know I read every word and took it all to heart. I appreciate all the openness you shared from your personal experiences with friends, family members, or even first-hand experiences with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I am currently educating myself on all the different types of therapies and discussing with the specialists what they advise in helping Nasir progress. We hope to see some changes in the first month of this new therapy. We are extremely hopeful.

Reading all the comments and messages that flooded in gave me so much encouragement and hope for my little guy. I know he will accomplish great things in his life, and luckily, we can be his advocates for his success.

In the meantime, please continue to support YARNutopia by sharing my patterns, watching my videos on YouTube, visiting my blog, and purchasing the Wood Be Fancy Crochet Hooks. That helps tremendously during this transition!

From the bottom of my heart, thank you all,

Nadia