Retirement & Foster Care

The Mockingbird Family Model Makes It Work: Retirement & Foster Care

By: Shelly Morris

She is three and he is one. He looks inquisitively at his big sister, slightly cocking his head. Her tight red curls and silent smiles will melt your heart. Their foster parents, Nana and Papa, are retired. They now spend their days focused on taking care of foster children and being grandparents.

Like many foster kids, Sophia and Jackson came into care because their biological family broke down and the children suffered from neglect. Their foster parents, Nana and Papa, were originally asked to take the children for 30 days. But the kids’ needs were significant, and 30 days seemed impractical. Nana and Papa asked to care for the kids long-term so they could help stabilize the youngsters.

I am a Hub Home foster parent which operates a Mockingbird Family Model Constellations made up of 6-10 foster families. Nana and Papa are part of my Constellation. We provide support to each of the families through peer support, training, social activities, respite care, and by assisting the families navigate the foster care system.

As Hub Home providers, my husband and I are thankful that these parents wanted to keep Sophia and Jackson. As part of our job, we try to always be ready to help. When Nana and Papa came to us for help one day, it was easy to say yes.

Jackson had just been released from the hospital when Nana received a call asking her to visit relatives in Montana. Nana and Papa both wanted to take the trip but felt it would not be in Jackson’s best interest. The baby had just been released from the hospital. They called me to talk it through.

We love what we do, fostering kids and supporting foster families. Our families have risen to a high call and are all committed to being family to kids who need support. Nana and Papa exemplify family first, especially in this situation. Under such circumstances, respite for two kids is the obvious answer and we were happy to meet that need. However, Nana and Papa asked for a different solution: I was asked to take Sophia for the week, while Papa would stay home with Jackson while Nana traveled.

My week with Sophia was amazing. My own daughter and Sophia hit it off, with Sophia following her around all week. By weeks’ end, I could tell that Sophia was picking up much-need vocal skills. My boys were entertained by the girls laughing at them as they tackled each other in the back yard.

I was blessed by having the sweetest girl sit in my lap as I sang to her at night. Sophia was very shy around my husband. Every time he walked into her sight, he was told “bye-bye” and waved off. Our family couldn’t help but laugh as this tiny red-headed three-year-old now controlled our home.

The Mockingbird Family Model allowed us to create the best situation for everyone. Sophia thoroughly enjoyed her time in our home. Papa was able to focus on Jackson’s care. And Nana was able to tend to her own family for the week. This outcome wouldn’t have been possible without the Mockingbird Family Model, and it helps make the journey of delivering foster care that much easier.