A year ago Amy Vedeikis was beginning a 10-week foster parenting and adoption class with hopes of one day becoming a foster parent.
Today she is fostering three siblings, two girls, ages seven, six and a boy, one, and even though it’s been a difficult journey at times, she couldn’t be happier.
“Teaching them about how I grew up, about God and watching the three of them together, smiling and laughing are my favorite times together,” said Vedeikis, a teacher in the Rowan-Salisbury School System. “When I am able to see the things I have been teaching them or my family become part of their daily routines and actions put a smile on my face.
“Seeing the baby grow each day and develop into this sweet precious baby boy who babbles and reaches for you has been out-of-this-world fun for us all. Being called ‘momma’ or being told they love you warms my heart.”
There have been some bumps along the way. The sisters came to live with Vedeikis in early June, just weeks after she finished the foster parenting and adoption class presented by Nazareth Child & Family Connection. The next 10-week session beings Wednesday, March 4 with an information session set for Wednesday, February 5 at Nazareth’s office at 165 Mahaley Ave. in Salisbury.
On July 19 the girls were returned to members of their birth family, and Vedeikis, who is single, faced an empty, quiet house.
“That was such a hard day for me and my family,” she recalls. “We all mourned in our own way since we had grown so attached but were happy they were with a family member.
“During that time, I prayed for them and for my family. I prayed that if there was another little one out there who needed me to send them my way. If God thought I needed
a break, then I understood.”
Vedeikis did her best to get back into a routine without the girls, but they were never far out of mind. School started and she returned to the classroom. Soon after, though, she got another call.
“One day I got a call asking if I would take my littles back at the end of the week. I of course said yes and got the ball rolling.”
Vedeikis knew the girls had a baby brother they had been living with and she didn’t want the youngsters to be apart again.
“During that week I did a lot of praying and soul searching. Something was weighing heavy on my heart,” she said. “You see, these two had a baby brother and if they came back this would be just another separation for them causing yet another trauma. With much prayer, guidance from my family and my licensing agent, I asked to have my board number upped to three and asked if I could get their little brother as well. Paperwork chains started, but it was ultimately up to DSS (Department of Social Services) and what they felt would be best.
“Fast forward a couple of days and DSS decided to have the baby come with me, too. I was now a single foster mom to three!”
Vedeikis said once the excitement of adding the baby to her tribe had subsided a bit, she realized there was much to be done before the baby boy, then eight months old, arrived.
“All of a sudden I realized I had not one baby item in my home! Thanks to my family, friends and members of a local church, I was gifted a crib, a playpen, a highchair, toys, clothes, diapers … you name it and people were offering to help. They even made sure to give things for the girls. I couldn’t have done it without all of these amazing people.”
Vedeikis believes that type of support plays a vital role in any fostering situation, but especially for single parents.
“I’m blessed to have an amazing family, friends and church family,” Vedeikis explained. “My mom, dad and both sisters have been able to watch the kids when they took turns being sick within the same two-week period and I couldn’t take another day off. They have been able to help with babysitting when I had a late meeting at work or if I needed to run to the store.
“I have some awesome foster-parent friends who I also call and talk with when I need to vent or to get suggestions. Friends offer to bring dinner over when they know I’m exhausted or just because. I’m also blessed with an amazing supervisor and coordinator who work with me when I need to take time off for doctor’s appointments or anything to do with the littles. I’ve used more sick days and annual leave days this school year than I have in 18 years.”
Despite sleepless nights, exhaustion, crying babies and the lack of naps, which she truly misses, Vedeikis has zero regrets over her fostering decisions.
“I get a lot of questions about being a foster parent but especially a single foster parent. Those that know me, think this was a natural step for me. I have always wanted to be a mom, so this was how I could be one,” said Vedeikis.
“Those that don’t know me, want to know about fostering, what it takes, support, who I went through, the ups and downs, etc. I’m always honest. I would never want to mislead someone. Is fostering easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes. Would I do it again and again if I could? A million times yes!”
Anyone interested in taking the free 10-week fostering and adoption classes which begin on March 5 or attending the information session on February 4, should call Shawn Squirewell with Nazareth Child & Family Connection, at 704.279.5556 EXT 111.