Lamont Thomas never planned to foster children, but when his friends lost their child to the system he felt compelled to step up and care for their son. Then came more kids in need, and before he knew it, the Buffalo, New York, man had fostered 30 children and adopted five. Now, he’s adopted five more children – siblings, all under the age of five – so that they can grow up together as a family.
Thomas has two biological children and adopted five more throughout the early 2000s. His children say it was his calling.
“He was my third foster home,” said Michael Thomas, 27, in an interview with Good Morning America. “Lamont never turned [a child] away. They either aged out or went back home to their own families.”
Thomas had taken a long break from fostering when he heard about a group of five siblings who needed a stable home.
“They had them in four different homes, four different cities,” Lamont told Good Morning America. “They were separated for over a year-and-a-half.”
That didn’t sit right with the dad. He felt the kids – ages 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 – deserved a home where they could grow up knowing one another. No one else was willing to do it, so he stepped up to the challenge.
The Process to Foster a Child
We’ve talked before about men choosing to be single parents through fostering or adoption. There are rarely enough available homes in the system to protect children from the negative effects of institutional care. Abuse is rampant in group homes and similar facilities. Due to overflow, foster children are regularly sent out-of-state where there is little oversight and the challenges to reuniting families can be almost insurmountable.
Thankfully the process can be fairly straightforward, even for single men:
1. Contact the Department of Human Services in your state.
2. Submit to a background check and other screening.
3. Complete your state’s education requirements.
4. Undergo a family study to ensure the environment is appropriate and safe.
5. Attend training and get your license.
Though becoming a foster parent is similar in most states, there may be variations. Every state has its own guidelines for approvals and placements too. If you’re interested – or concerned something in your background might preclude you from obtaining your license – the best move is to ask early in the process.
Unfortunately, when you foster a child, it can be difficult for your biological children to handle if they don’t get to live with you full-time. If your children are still young enough for you to share physical custody with a co-parent, you might meet with a family therapist to discuss your child’s feelings toward fostering before taking the plunge.
Have you taken the foster challenge? If so, please post your experiences below.