The Challenge of Fostering a Child Can Bring Unexpected yet Genuine Relationships

When Amanda Dunn first approached her husband Zachary about fostering infants and young children, he shuddered and said, "Oh, no!"

It wasn't that he was opposed to the idea. But life had just gotten a little smoother for the Coronado family of five. Their three sons, Caleb, Micah, and Josiah were out of diapers and in school. Zachary had returned from four combat deployments in the Middle East, and life had settled into a calm routine.Amanda & Zachary Dunn were worried about navigating relationships with biological families before they started fostering children, but they realized their concerns were unfoundedZachary decided that if Amanda felt the desire to foster he would support her. The couple attended an information session at Angels Foster Family Network and Zachary was quickly all in. "I didn't understand the drive at first, but at the orientation, it was like, we need to do this," he explains.

A few things convinced Zachary. The first was hearing that there are 2,300 infants and toddlers in foster care in San Diego County. The second was learning that Angels has to turn away two-thirds of the requests it gets from the county because of the shortage of foster parents. And finally, when the couple heard the firsthand account of fostering from an Angels family, they knew fostering was the right choice for them. "We both knew how to love a child, protect him, and be responsible for him," says Amanda.

Amanda and Zachary still had one concern, though. They wondered how much contact they would have with the biological family of their placement. "I was really nervous to supervise visits and wondered if I was equipped to handle that part of it," Amanda shares. They decided to move forward and address these fears during the training and certification process.

Shortly after the couple was certified through Angels, they got a call that a two-week-old baby boy, "Levi," needed a foster home while his biological family worked toward reunification. Amanda and Zachary said they fell in love with Levi from the moment they saw him at the hospital and knew they had made the right decision in fostering. Still, they wondered how they would navigate the relationship with Levi's biological family.

Today, Amanda and Zachary say their fears were unfounded. "I realize that every situation is different, but we absolutely love the family! Getting to know them has been a blessing," says Amanda, as she shares the details of their holiday celebrations together. "We are one big family," says Zachary. They both have clear admiration for Levi's biological mother, saying she is super-smart and motivated. "She is in a program right now and I see great changes in her," says Amanda.

Amanda and Zachary are also close to Levi's siblings, aunts, grandmother, and great grandmother. "It just feels so comfortable and it's shocking because that was our greatest concern," Amanda says. It took about a year to forge this level of trust. They've spent time together and had a chance to get to know one another. Everyone has confidence that Levi is loved and cared for by a large, extended family. "The mom told me that she sees Levi's place in our family and doesn't feel like she has lost him," Amanda adds. "I love her and no matter what, Levi will always have two moms."


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