Taking stock of her life’s work that included giving back, Stacey Felzer volunteered at several places as she was figuring out where to best put her efforts. The Marietta resident came across Clark’s Christmas Kids in 2018 thinking it sounded “super fun.”
“I get there and see these enormous binders with kid’s wish lists. I’m working with a volunteer from DFCS and I said, ‘Oh my goodness there are so many kids in these binders.’ ... We started talking and she’d been doing a little bit of research figuring out that at that point it was almost 14,000 kids in foster care,” Felzer said.
The magnitude of kids in need set her down a path of reflecting on what she could do. It was through her church that her journey began.
“I became a supporting mentor to a family that had three kids fostered through Wellroot. I got involved in a group at church and started to meet single foster moms that were doing an amazing job and it kind of planted that seed that maybe I could do this,” the 46-year-old said. “All the while I got involved in mentoring a teen that was aging out of foster care so I was seeing a lot of aspects of foster care and just the massive needs of and for the community.”
The following holiday she returned to help with Clark Howard’s mission to see to it that every child in the Georgia foster care system wakes up Christmas morning to at least one present.
The DFCS volunteer and Felzer resumed their conversation in more depth. They caught up on what Felzer had been doing and talked about suggestions on how she could become more involved.
Examining the possibilities, she visited Wellroot Family Services, a faith-centered organization, to understand what services they offered and what was key to her. “It was important to have someone to walk with me on that journey and that’s what they offered,” she said.
Felzer went through the certification process with the non-profit and became a foster parent in the summer of 2020.
Early in December that year, Felzer took in two siblings that came in under a concurrent plan. “It is an adoption path, and also a reunification path. The idea is that they both run concurrent, run simultaneously so that the goal is reunification with the biological parent(s),” she said. “The idea is when you do a concurrent plan, it’s also working on the adoption side as well to avoid, you know, if the parent/bio parent is not able to work their plan there is some Plan B in place on down the path.
“I was asked pretty early on if I would be willing to adopt the boys ... . You would have thought that might be the hardest question ever and I don’t know if it even registered with my brain,” the single mom said. “It was an easy question to answer because whatever these boys needed … and the opportunity I had to be a part of their life ... to know that they have lifetime security was what I wanted to give them. Hopefully at the end of summer it will be finalized.”
Over the past 2 1/2 years, Felzer has watched the young boy’s personalities, interests and confidence blossom. The oldest is into sports and curious about all kinds of things. The younger sibling loves music and performing.
“I am constantly amazed by these boys - their resilience, capacity to love, their kind hearts. We have our ups and downs, don’t get me wrong. Trauma has definitely made for some challenging times, but have worked through it and come out of it stronger.”
Wellroot CEO Allison Ashe said, “I think it’s really great that Stacey took in two siblings (now 7 and 11) to foster and is now in the process of adopting them. Taking in more than one is not often desired. We really want to keep kids together whenever possible.
“In general, I think, fostering through a nonprofit agency like Wellroot you can know that they are going to be well supported throughout the process in everything from events throughout the year to the training and support around fostering,” the CEO stated.
Initially, Felzer was unacquainted with trauma and abuse - things kids had gone through - and questioned if she could handle it. Meeting them is all one needs because they are so deserving of love, care and support, she said.
“If you have any reservations about being a foster parent, I promise you, it’s worth every heartache, every hard day, Felzer added. “It’s the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. There’s not even a second close.”
Visit Wellroot for more information, https://wellroot.org/our-programs/foster-care/
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