Marcus & Kate +8

By Kate Hromada, Treehouse Caregiver

Being a foster parent has enriched my life in so many ways. I have had the privilege to get to know and love truly wonderful souls whom I may never have met otherwise. I have the opportunity to be a part of someone else’s life. I have learned so much working with these kids and their families. It has opened my mind in ways I couldn’t have foreseen. My family and I have learned about new cultures and different backgrounds. We have learned about how wonderful it feels to help others and gained and appreciation of how fortunate we are in being able to open our home to others.

Kate and Family Kate and Son

This brings me to our most recent foster child Jamie. Jamie came to us as a 12 year old and while we connected with him instantly, he truly became a forever member of our family over the 18 months he was in our care. Watching Jamie experience new things, watching him when he put on his (much needed) glasses for the first time knowing he was finally able to see me clearly. So many wonderful memories have been created; tearing up at the doctor as he describes some of his issues, seeing the satisfaction on his face when he receives an A, cheering on the sidelines at his soccer games, having him there when our daughter was born and sharing in both his joys and his sorrows. I know our family has made a difference in his life and he has made a huge difference in ours.

The incredible resources that Treehouse provides has been a saving grace and HUGE asset for our family. While Treehouse has helped us with many of our foster children, their help with Jamie has really gone above and beyond over the past two years. When he came to live with us he was in 6th grade. He was behind in school and English was his second language (though you would never know it talking to him). Jamie is from Haiti and had only been living in the US for three years, with very limited access to resources both at home and at school due to language and cultural barriers. When he first arrived at our home we partnered with Jill, his Treehouse Education Specialist. Jill was such a blessing in our lives. She would meet Jamie at school once a week and together they would discuss his goals for his education and map out plans to reach them. While we worked with Jamie at home too it was wonderful to have a resource that wasn’t his “parents” at the school. Jill signed Jamie up for Russell Wilson passing camp. I can’t describe how much this meant to Jamie. It was another adult in his life that he could build a positive relationship with and learn to trust. It was another person that cared for him and his success in life. It would later become another resource when he transitioned back home.

One of the things we work on in our home is helping our kids help themselves, understanding that although we never want them to leave, that day may soon come. This means teaching them how to cook, helping them with a routine so they can get through their days, teaching them to speak up about things, teaching them to take responsibility for the things they can control, because one day we may not be there. In Jamie’s case it gave us great comfort knowing that when he left our home he would have the support of Treehouse as a knowledgeable listening ear, and an advocate for his education and future. We have always felt the more positive people in Jamie’s life, the better. Jamie now has his counselor, his attorney, his soccer coach, numerous teachers, and of course Jill from Treehouse.  When we received word last spring that Jamie would return home at the start of this current school year, we were reassured that he would have the support of a great cast of caring adults to ease his transition. Jill introduced us to Michael, another Treehouse Education Specialist with experience in the South Seattle area where he was returning, to further help with his transition. Michael not only knew his new school inside and out, but talked to all of his teachers, coaches and family members to provide very specialized care and support. The depth of knowledge he has about Jamie’s situation has been a huge asset in keeping him on track.

Jamie is now reunited with his mother who just recently moved up from Haiti to care for him. The transition was difficult for all of us, but it would have been much harder without the support of Treehouse. Fortunately, we have been able to forge a strong relationship with Jamie’s mother and now have the privilege of having him at our house every other weekend and holidays. I can’t overstate how enriching the foster experience has been for our family and Treehouse played a huge part along the way.

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About the Author

Kate Hromada has been a foster parent for six years and fostered 11 wonderful children in that time, ranging from a few days old to 14. She was adopted as a baby, and although she was never in foster care believes in some way it has fueled her passion for working with children. Kate and her better half Marcus have seven children together. Kate has Bryce, Quentin, and Sophia. Marcus has Rian, Parker, and Bella. Together they have their newest addition, Helen. Yes, a “Brady Bunch +1”. They consider Jamie a son too, “Marcus and Kate +8”!

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