Fostering a future

Craig family called to help children

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It was 3:30 in the afternoon when the call came.

Bob Woods was on his ladder, getting set to remodel his kitchen.

Almost immediately after getting off the phone with Social Services, he set out to work on helping remodel the lives of three children.

"Within an hour, we had a twin bed set up in the bedroom, and we had ... (several) kids," Bob said.

The calling for Bob and Caecilia to become foster parents was not as immediate.

After struggling to have a child of their own, they looked into adoption and foster care while living in Hawaii and taking classes there. Just before moving to the mainland, Caecilia and Bob found out they were going to have a baby, Briana.

Still, they wanted to be foster parents.

"We just feel it's God's calling to help the children of the world out," said Bob, the pastor at First Congregational United Church of Christ. "There are a lot of children in bad situations."

Bob and Caecilia, Craig residents for two years, got their first chance to be foster parents after moving to Craig two years ago, when they had Ron move in.

"We became foster parents with our first child because we knew him, and they wanted to place him with someone that knew him," Bob said. "So they asked us."

Moving a child in with someone the child knows is important, said Matt Harris, Moffat County Social Services case worker supervisor.

To help ease the child's burden, Social Services looks to find a safe relative to place him or her with. If that doesn't work, the agency then seeks "child specific care," as Harris called it, such as Bob and Caeclia -- a person that the child has a connection with.

"That way ... it's not so traumatizing," Harris said. "In a lot of ways (kids going into foster care) really are giving up everything that they know. They're losing their family temporarily or possibly forever. They never really know what is going on."

Ron stayed with Bob and Caecilia for a few months before he went back to his family. Bob and Caecilia still keep in touch with Ron.

"He's doing really well," Bob said. "When Ron came to us, he was an F to C student, and when he left us, he was doing B+ to A- work. When I talked to his (family) this morning, I learned he got all A's and B's on his report card. ... It makes us happy to see that he is still doing really."

Having Ron in the house for the brief time was meaningful but also sad for Caecilia.

"Sometimes it's hard, because like when (Ron) left, it really touches ..." she said, trailing off, clutching her chest, unable to finish the sentence.

"It's hard," Bob lamented, noting the situation is made easier by the fact that they still have a relationship with Ron.

"I don't know if that can always happen," Bob said, "but it did in that situation, and hopefully it can (with these kids)."

Lessons for life

When people hear that Bob and Caecilia are foster parents to several children, it is not uncommon to hear the following reaction:

"Some people say, 'Are you insane? Are you crazy," Caecilia said, with a laugh. "'Um, maybe, I say."

"But what are we going to do?" Bob said. "They need a place to go where they can be loved and taken care of. And we love them.

"There are moments that we wonder if we are totally insane for doing this, but at the same time ... they're really sweet," Bob said. "They're learning really fast. It's an honor to be present in their lives and help them change and grow and learn."

"And give them the love that they need, even if it's not for the long term," Caecilia said.

"And hopefully, that will help them carry through life -- teach them right from wrong," Bob said.

The couple has also found comfort and support in the community.

"Being a pastor we take these kids to church on Sunday, so everybody in the church knows that we have the kids," Bob said. "They've all been amazing in helping take care of them on Sunday when I'm busy, and giving us food, coupons, and Safeway gift certificates. ... It becomes a church project."

That community spirit was shown during the Christmas holiday.

"We've had several agencies in town donate presents for them," Bob said. "They're going to have a better Christmas, in terms of gifts, than most children. ... And it's just a blessing to know that they're safe."

Editor's note: Aspects of the story were not put into the article to protect the children.

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