Nicolle and Nayt Smith had always felt strongly about fostering children who needed loving, stable homes...
But they had one major concern. They were afraid the birth parents might be hostile toward them. Nicolle says, “I knew we would be able to handle whatever challenges the children had, but what if the parents were angry?”
As it turned out, the biological mother and extended family were grateful that the Smiths stepped in to provide a safe, loving home for baby Isaiah. He was placed in foster care at five months old and was recently adopted by the Smiths. Now two years old, Isaiah is a little brother to 10-year-old Logan and 12-year-old Emma. The Smiths are still in close contact with Isaiah’s biological family and say they are like a blended family. One of Isaiah’s biological sisters lives with her grandparents in Riverside, so they arrange frequent visits to help the children stay connected.
“They have come here for Christmas,” explains Nayt. “And they bring gifts not only for Isaiah, but also for Emma and Logan.” The couple explains that Isaiah’s biological family was able to care for his older sister, but when the younger boy came into the foster care system later, the grandparents weren’t able to manage an additional child. They are delighted that the Smith family opened their hearts and home to baby Isaiah. And although the biological mother was unable to reunify with Isaiah, she has always been gracious and kind. The family even has a nickname for her – “Kelly Belly” – since that is where he came from as a baby. They say she’s welcome to visit when she is ready.
Nicolle and Nayt are hard pressed to name the best part of fostering because there is so much they enjoy. It is extremely rewarding to watch infants and toddlers bounce back from developmental challenges. Nayt recalls, “When Isaiah came to us he was this little bundle with big blue eyes, looking like, ‘Where am I? What’s going on?’” Soon, though, he learned that he was safe and loved, and the family got to watch Isaiah’s personality come out. The couple says it is equally gratifying to see how fostering has impacted Emma and Logan. Nicolle smiles and says, “They never fight with Isaiah, they fight over him because they love him so much.”
Isaiah was the Smith family’s second placement with Angels Foster Family Network and they were overjoyed when he became available for adoption. Their first placement was a baby girl who was with the family for six weeks before she was adopted by another family. Saying goodbye was difficult, especially for Nayt, who hadn’t quite realized how attached he had grown to the baby, “Joy.” He smiles and shakes his head. “She wiggled herself right there into my heart and I loved her.” Nayt recalls feeding her and looking into her eyes with a flurry of emotion. “Here’s this child who I need to attach with, and also know that it is going to be so hard, but I’m the adult and can manage the hurt. All of this is swirling around in my head.” Nicolle says that she was in charge of filling out the paperwork and keeping clinical and visitation appointments, which were constant reminders that Joy would be leaving them. Nayt says Joy’s departure hit him hard, but the experience was still worth it. Nicolle adds, “More people need to foster. These kids are hurting and we can help. I wish people knew that it’s not as hard as they think. Angels is there to help with absolutely everything. If you’re on the fence about fostering, just do it, because there’s some little kid out there who needs you.”
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