Local family shares foster care experience
After nearly two years with their foster children, the Canavans look to adopt
(Editor’s note: David Canavan preferred to have his wife Kristi speak for the interview. Hub City Times was also asked not to identify the foster children in this story by gender or specific age. The most detail we may give is to say that the foster children are toddler age.)
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — It was not an easy decision for David and Kristi Canavan to add two foster children to their family that already included three children, ages 18, 15, and 9.
“I’d say about five years ago I met someone who was a foster parent, … and God sort of laid it on my heart at that point, and it took about three years of praying to convince my husband that we want to do this,” Kristi said. The entire time they were considering becoming foster parents Kristi noticed ads on the radio, in newspapers, and on television about foster care. She felt it was a sign that she and David had a calling to be foster parents.
After a licensing process of several months, the Canavans became official foster care parents about two years ago. They hope to officially adopt their foster children some time in July.
Kristi said that since receiving their foster children life has been “crazy busy.” Visits with the biological parents, monthly social worker visits, and the day-to-day tasks of caring for small children added a heavy workload to the Canavans’ already full plate. Their oldest biological child graduated from high school in May, but for now the Canavans have five children under one crowded roof.
Kristi said it took her biological children time to adapt to having two toddlers become a part of their family, but before long they were in love.
“At first it was hard, I think, sharing us with them, but they all kind of fell in love with our little (children),” Kristi said. “Our son, even though he was the baby, surprisingly, I think he fell fast and hard for his little (siblings).”
Kristi said they did not go into the foster process with the intention of adopting the children full time, but they were open to the idea. It was hard for the Canavans to reconcile the idea that their biological children were much older than their foster children and that in a way it would be like reliving a past phase of their lives.
“We’re thinking, ‘Oh, we’re going to be empty nesters,’” Kristi said. “We’re starting over, and it’s going to be even longer before we’re empty nesters, but in some ways I’m OK with that because I’m struggling with my daughter graduating (this year).”
The process to become licensed, adopt foster children, and the change to everyday life that two new children creates can certainly be challenging, but Kristi said seeing them develop makes it all worth it.
“All of a sudden one of them will crawl up in your lap and (say), ‘I love you, mommy.’ That’s why we do what we do because that’s what you’re looking for. You’re looking for them to develop that healthy relationship with a parental figure.”
Kristi said that after she and David permanently adopt their foster children they will likely not take future foster care placements at least for a while, but they would consider doing respite care. Respite care provides a short-term break for other foster parents so they can go on a vacation or take a weekend away.
For those that are considering foster care as an option, Kristi said she would advise getting information and seeing if it might be a fit.
“Even if you just get licensed to do respite, that’ll help out a lot, even if you can’t do permanent placement,” Kristi said. “You don’t know unless you try.”
For more information on the foster care system or if you have interest in being a foster parent, call Grace Bauer at Wood County Human Services at 715-387-6374 (North Wood County) or Jean Rader at 715-421-8643 (South Wood County) or visit co.wood.wi.us/Departments/HumanServices/ChildrenLivingOutOfTheHome.aspx.