Since 1985, our foster families and support staff have had a tremendous impact on foster children in central Indiana. Following are a few of their stories.
This was the question Cookie Purvis asked, over 20 years ago. As a single parent and mother of 3 college-bound biological children, Cookie found herself in discussions with friends around becoming a foster parent. She hadn’t really considered the idea because she assumed her divorced marital status, “already raised” bio children, and recent relocation to Indianapolis excluded her from being eligible to foster; all of which are myths.
Cookie’s remarkable devotion to providing disadvantaged children with the feeling of family quickly drew her through foster parent training and she began providing short-term “emergency” foster care in 1990.
As Cookie’s confidence grew, she began fostering children for longer periods of time and her journey eventually connected her with Adult and Child Center.
Adult and Child’s program focuses on supporting children with emotional challenges and while Cookie admits this presents a unique set of parenting challenges, she is also very proud of the success her foster children have found.
“I encourage my children to figure out what they like to do most in life and go do it. So
many times, these kids come to our family having never been encouraged or experienced love or affection. Before any child comes into our home, we discuss it as a family, but once they are here, we treat them like family regardless of color, gender, or disability. We are just a family that has no love boundaries.”
Today, Cookie is married to Warren, and the couple continues caring for foster children. When asked about the challenges around caring for children who have emotional challenges, Warren referenced a
t-shirt he owns which says “set no limits”. This phrase is much more than a t-shirt for Warren, it is his philosophy (Warren is the proud father of 7 adopted teenage girls). He proactively includes each of their (foster) children in family games, activities, and home projects regardless of gender, ability, or project type.
Cookie and Warren have lost track of how many children they have fostered, but they estimate it to be well over 40 children; 7 of whom they have adopted (and they aren’t finished). The Purvis family is truly a remarkable Hoosier family. Their ability to embrace and accept traumatized children into their family, without judgment, is encouraging.
“Whether they have a mental disorder, or physical disorder, or they are just traumatized, all these kids want to feel is safe and loved.” - Cookie Purvis
Lisa Williams always wanted to adopt a child. In addition to raising her biological daughter, Lisa always found herself helping with the children of family members. After raising her daughter, Lisa still felt a drive to love and nurture a special child. Her cousin, a case manager for a foster agency, suggested she
Mother to 2 biological children and over 70 foster children, Angeleta shares her first experience as a foster mom.
As an international student from a poverty country, Vietnam, with minimal opportunities, I was so looking forward to studying in the United States. Little did I know, that I would face one of the biggest challenges of my life by being placed into the US foster care system shortly after my arrival.
In my home country, abuse is rarely heard of nor taken seriously, if reported. My parents back in Vietnam and my US extended family had placed much trust in this person who was now a part of our family. Unfortunately, he took advantage of me and broke our trust. Not knowing what the consequences would be, I felt it necessary to tell someone about my current situation. This resulted in Child Protective Services removing me from my home that same evening. The waiting area of the CPS office was large but quiet. It was full of the sounds of whispers, typing, and electronic devices. I became even more frightened by the serious looks on all of the workers’ faces. At the time, very little information was given to me. It only added to my fear and confusion. I sat in an empty room and cried while waiting, for what seemed like forever, for someone to speak to me. During this time, all I could think about was how I should not have said anything to anyone. I was confused and very uncomfortable divulging my private life to so many unfamiliar faces.
After all the questioning, it was Dec.12, 2012 (the day that I’ll never forget) 10:30pm when I officially left my family and became a foster kid, on my way to my first foster home.
Marty, my first foster mother, was kind but very serious as she welcomed me into her home. She knew nothing about my case and I waited three days, in the same clothes with none of my things, for the courts to give permission to get them from my family’s home. Marty’s home was comfortable enough and her family was kind to me. Nonetheless, it was a very challenging time as I tried to make sense of this new life while trying to maintain my college prep high school curriculum. It was extremely difficult to focus on school and within a few months of placement, I exhibited signs of stress, depression and difficulty sleeping and eating.
"NO MATTER HOW SMALL, BROKEN, FILTHY THE HOME I LIVED IN, IT WAS STILL HOME."
No matter how small, broken, filthy the home I lived in, it was still home. I did not need a foster parent. I needed a parent. I actually wanted that talk about not staying up too late, not dancing too close to the boys like the “speech” my mom always gave me in Vietnam. I wanted a mother to help me with my hair, to share my excitement, encourage me, and love me. Most foster parents have too many kids and have difficulty providing the necessary attention and care all young people need. I am grateful that, although Marty struggled with her own health problems that ultimately made me have to move, she did support and care for me the best she could for the year I was with her. My current foster parents are providing great parental guidance and I am so grateful to have them in my life. I truly believe in everything happens for a reason and live by this motto. Mrs. Debra is an amazing woman. She’s more than a foster mom, she’s my best friend. I feel completely comfortable sharing everything with her. Our talks at midnight or 2am in her bed are always my favorite.
This past two and a half years have made me stronger, wiser, more humble, strong-minded, and an independent person. I would not change my foster care experience for anything as it has broadened my perspective on life and opened my eyes to future possibilities.
Editor note: Lindsey has agreed to share her story with A&C followers in hopes of inspiring strength in other children who find themselves in similar struggles. She will continue to share her perspectives on a regular basis, so please check back!