Veteran gives back as foster parent
Published 12:47 pm Sunday, May 7, 2023
May is National Foster Care Month, a time to salute parents who have stepped up to answer the call to change the world, one child at a time.
Greenville resident and military veteran Tammie Rice was honored this month as a Seraag Family Homes, Inc. foster parent who opened her home to youth in need of stability and support by becoming a foster parent.
“Mrs. Rice is a veteran and an entrepreneur,” said Shay Stincon, content creator with Seraag, “She’s a busy woman and a single mom. She’s well known in the community. A lot of people depend on her, but she still finds the time to be active as a foster parent.”
Rice said she finds joy in fostering children because it allows her to fulfill the need to give back.
“I want to share my experiences, time, and good fortune with a child,” Rice said. “My two children are adults, and I don’t feel that I am done with parenting. The energy, joy, and excitement of children can be contagious. I enjoy spending time outdoors, at amusement parks, and traveling.”
Seraaj is a therapeutic foster care agency which has licensed, recruited, and trained Alabama foster parents for 36 years. The agency places children for the Butler County Department of Human Resources and currently houses around five local children.
Rice said foster parenting allows her to share her experiences with children and is a powerful way to lift the heads of children and to show them there is hope for the future.
“I enjoy a challenge,” Rice said. “Each child has their own unique needs and challenges. When I can crack that code to get the child to hold their head high with pride, with a big smile on their face, then I feel I have met those children where they are. To me, that is one of the best feelings in the world.”
Stinson said more fosters are needed and individuals like Rice help to put a fresh face on what foster families look like and to remove the stereotypical image of who can foster a child.
“Teenagers especially are stereotyped for bad behavior,” Stinson said. “Some prospective fosters don’t want to deal with that. We have to get the stigmas away from teenagers so that when they are in need of stability and safety, we have people in the community to say, ‘Hey, we’ll take these kids.’ We are in desperate need of foster parents.”
Foster parents must have patience and a special type of energy, Rice explained.
“These youths want attention and I feel that they are entitled to someone who is willing to listen to them and devote time to them. Children thrive on consistency and love. They like to play and use their imaginations. As a foster parent, you can combine the best of both worlds to provide a much-needed sense of normalcy with consistent mealtimes and bedtimes as well as shared hobbies.”
Seraaj trains fosters to navigate challenges children in the foster system face: trauma, abuse, neglect, or other special physical or emotional needs and while foster parenting comes with unique challenges, Rice said the rewards are tremendous.
“Foster parenting may be the most challenging job you’ll ever have, but it can be the most rewarding one as well,” Rice said. “Keep an open mind as to what your foster family could look like—from the child’s age and gender to their race and ethnicity. There is no single script or mold for becoming a foster parent. But all foster parents have one thing in common: A strong desire to give children hope when they need it most and an abundant supply of love. It’s really important that you stand in the gap to show them love, even if it’s for a small period of time.”
According to Stinson, each Alabama County has children in need of care and there is a desperate need for more foster homes.
To learn more about becoming a foster parent, visit www.seraajfh.com or www.dhr.alabama.gov/foster-care/.