This year teacher Katie Strugielski will be buying school supplies for her own kids. She and her husband searched for an advocate to help make their desire for children a reality. They found it with Barrington’s Let It Be Us, a nonprofit child welfare agency creating new ways to match children in foster care with waiting parents. Katie’s story is the latest in our Voices of Adoption series…
Teacher Spends Summer Becoming a Mom
As told by Katie Strugielski to writer Mary Klest
Being a fifth-grade teacher, I understand the role a caring adult plays in the lives of children. For me, a teacher is someone children can go to for help and guidance. Being one of five siblings, I appreciate the camaraderie of family and the importance of a stable, accepting home. We were raised by loving parents. My husband Casey and I looked forward to having a family of our own, but after several years of marriage and multiple attempts to become pregnant, the babies didn’t come. We turned to our faith which led us to the foster care system of Illinois. There are so many kids who need love and support. We were ready to give.
We got licensed as foster parents in October 2018. The process included background checks, letters of reference, house visits and medical physicals. We didn’t specify any criteria on race or gender but because we are in our early thirties, we wanted children below the age of 12.
Once licensed we got some calls, but none was a good fit. We felt a bit frustrated but continued to pray and trust in God that a child would come. We didn’t know how to advocate for ourselves. Our social worker was helpful in getting us licensed but after that we were on our own, looking at websites and communicating with DCFS.
It was a fluke that one day I was on Facebook and saw a friend had posted information about a meeting on adoption through foster care hosted by Let It Be Us. We decided to attend. It was comforting to be with families in the same position as us. The information given at the meeting was very helpful. Susan McConnell, the executive director, impressed us as a person who got things done, someone we wanted in our corner. She was very encouraging and had the connections we were looking for.
Through the Let It Be Us Targeted Recruitment Program we were matched with our wonderful children who are siblings, a girl who is nine years old and a boy who is 11 years old. She is fun, silly and loves to dance, play with dolls and listen to music. He is a thoughtful older brother who likes playing with Legos, solving math problems, and anything regarding superheroes. He and my husband read superhero books together.
Welcoming them into our home has been exciting and challenging. It’s a big adjustment for everyone, but we embrace it wholeheartedly. It’s amazing how life can change in minutes. Every decision we make now impacts two other people. It has humbled me. We will always be there for them giving them the love and support they deserve. I will also be our son’s fifth grade teacher. I work in a small, private school where there is only one fifth grade class. I’m looking forward to it. ‘Back to school’ will have a whole new meaning for us this year.
We hope you enjoy learning about foster care and adoption in Illinois through these stories of love, generosity and kindness. If you or someone you know are curious about how to get licensed as a foster parent in Illinois, please visit LetitBeUs.org.
Let It Be Us also hosts a series of “Fireside Chats” on Foster Care & Adoption at Barrington’s White House. These events are funded through a grant from the Barrington Area Community Foundation. Click here for their latest schedule of upcoming sessions and reserve your spot today.
If you would like to help Let It Be Us unite more children with foster and adoptive families, please click here to make a donation.