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A Day In The Life Of An SFL Family

Like millions of households, we are taking care of business this fine Saturday. This morning, it is our foster son who is getting some attention. He needs some things and as any parent of a child with special needs will tell you, it takes a little more time and a little more preparation.

Rousing him early this Saturday, I tell him he is coming with me to get lab work. His anxiety prompts me to not mention appointments ahead of time. He doesn’t actually mind the appointments. It’s the “thinking” about the activity too far in advance that gets him in trouble. So - do I go on-line and make an appointment with the lab this morning and give him more time to ruminate while I do so, or do I take my chances and dash over with him, hoping to get there before the crowd also needing lab work? I decide to take my chances and dash with my son. I prompt him to gather up his back pack, that veritable cornucopia of all things sacred to him, including his Kindle Fire. This bag, this friend of ours, is a steady companion to him, ready to provide him with entertainment, focus, grounding and maybe even a little bit of needed deep pressure when he has it on. He takes it wherever he goes, inside and outside the house.

He actually knows the drill, but he asks me anyway – “We’re going to McDonald’s afterwards, right?” I turn his incessant questioning, his “need to know” back into a question – “Do you think we are going to McDonald’s afterwards?” He agrees – yes he knows, so he rattles off exactly what he wants, as he always does. The structure of the interaction, the “knowing” of what is coming next helps him. And I want to help him. The questions then get obsessive. He asks about his foster brothers, whom he adores – “Are they ok?” He knows they are at home, but he is compelled to ask. I give him words he needs to hear – “Is this your business?” He understands it is not and the tension in his mind eases.

At the lab, we are in luck – no one in line. I ask him if he could go in by himself – after all, he is a teenager now, looking for more independence. I give him reminders, some prompting in a low voice right there in the waiting room, telling him what behavior is expected of him. He stands a little taller and strides right in.

The lab visit is a success, not a non-compliant moment. At McDonald’s, another favorite topic of conversation of his is on tap – movies. But in mid-conversation he stops short, looks at me and says “You are a good foster mom”. I tell him it’s easy since he is such a good foster son. A jewel of a moment I will tuck away for the future. “Homeward bound”, I say to signify time to go. Not on the same page, he startles and says “That’s a movie”. I chuckle to myself and say to him “Yes, it is”.



Nick and Vicki Englen are currently the proud parents of two teenage foster children with special needs and two teenage biological sons. Their home is licensed through Lakemary’s Supported Family Living program. As a family, they have served as a therapeutic foster family for a total of four foster children.

Are you interested in providing a home for a child with intellectual/developmental disabilities?  Learn more about this rewarding program.