Six Years. Eight Children. A Whole Lot of Love.
Thereâ€™s no sweeter love story than that of high school sweethearts. When Rhonda and Russ Cross first met in their sophomore year in 1990, they never could have imaged how beautiful their life together would be. Twenty-six years later, their home is always full of laughter and joy â€“ not only from their two biological sons, but also children they have fostered and adopted.
This year marks their sixth anniversary as foster parents. Over the years, they have provided eight children in foster care with a loving home until it was safe for them to be reunified with their parents. One of these amazing children blessed Rhonda and Russ by becoming an official member of their family through the process of adoption. They are also in the process of adopting their current foster child.
Their six years of experience have afforded them a fresh perspective on their roles as foster parents. To them, it is more than just helping the child heal, itâ€™s about helping the whole family. They do their best to form a connection with the biological parents of their foster children, offering themselves as parental mentors and a source of support. The bonds they formed have been so strong that the Crossâ€™ have even babysat for parents once their children have been returned home.
â€œItâ€™s not easy,â€ explains Rhonda of her experience fostering. â€œThe reward at the end is the satisfaction you have in your heart of knowing that youâ€™ve done something for someone else. Thereâ€™s nothing in the world that can take that away.â€
Rhonda and Russâ€™ first experience in child welfare comes long before their decision to become foster parents. They are a unique couple in that both were adopted at a young age by families who adored them. For them, fostering is an opportunity to give back.
They take special care to get to know the story of the families they are working with to understand what led them to their current situation.
â€œWe do our best to remain non-judgmental,â€ Rhonda says. â€œSometimes parents just need a break and the chance to pull themselves together without their kids seeing them fall apart.â€
Rhondaâ€™s sons, ages 10 and 14, have become huge proponents of foster care. They fully support the decision of their parents to invite children who have not been able to experience the kind of love that they have into the home. Families who have biological children are often nervous about becoming foster parents. Part of this is due to the concern of jealousy or of their own children feeling replaced. As Rhonda will quickly tell you, her boys thrive when other children share their home.
â€œWe ensure their needs are met by having a family debrief after each child leaves. We want to know how they are feeling, and if they are okay with continuing to foster,â€ Rhonda explains.
Six years and eight placements may seem like a lot, but the Cross family has no intention of stopping anytime soon. Their motivation can be summed up by these beautiful words that Rhonda left us with:
â€œEverybody wants someone to love them. They want somebody to make them feel like they are worth something. When I put my arms around them and let them know itâ€™s going to be okay, I feel the way they relax in my arms. That is what makes it worth it to meâ€.
We thank Rhonda and Russ for being the foster parents that our children deserve, and encourage you to take the next step and explore if this unique opportunity is right for your family. Visit our page on foster care, and consider letting today be the day you give a loving a child a home.