In 2018, Shaquita and her husband Demond reunited with their three children after 18 months in foster care. Her experience not only strengthened her relationship with Demond but also increased her desire to be the best parent possible.
What do you remember most about the time you were apart from your kids?
I remember heartache and hurt. Demond and I were upset at ourselves; it was our mistake that led to foster care. Our kids were worried they would never come home. At visits, our oldest would ask, “When can I come home? Can you come get me?”
How important were those visits?
The visits were difficult, yet essential. We came to Bethany three times every week for one-hour visits. The limited time was hard for us, because we were used to having our kids with us every day, but they helped ease my mind about my children’s foster parents. They were wonderful, and our connection with them meant a lot. Demond and I don’t have family nearby, and we don’t have much support. I still keep in contact with the foster families, so they know how the kids are doing.
After 18 months apart, how were you notified that your kids were coming home?
We never stopped asking, “When are the kids coming home?” What happens is you go to court to request a dual order. If that is approved, the children can slowly transition home over a period of 90 days while the foster care system continues to oversee the case and support the family. The day you go to court, you don’t know if the judge will approve the dual order or not.
I was very nervous. Kristen, our case worker, was reassuring. She said, “I can’t tell you what the judge is going to say, but I think she’s going to say yes. You’ve been doing great, and you’re doing everything you’re supposed to be doing.” We got to court, and I cried when the judge said “yes.” After 60 days, our kids began their transition home.
What emotions were you feeling as you prepared for the kids to return home?
I was nervous. The kids had been gone for so long. I was especially nervous about our oldest son because he had become really attached to his foster parents. He had such conflicting emotions—happy to be home, yet sad to leave his foster family.
The first week the kids were home, we did a few special things as a family. We went to Chuck E. Cheese’s and we went to see “Incredibles 2.” We spent some time outside at the park, but mostly we stayed home and loved each other. The first few nights, the boys slept in the bed with us. They didn’t want to leave our side.
A year and a half ago, did you think this is where you would be now?
Honestly, I didn’t think Demond and I would still be together. I didn’t think we could have accomplished all of this together. After the kids are in bed, we talk a lot about all we’ve been through.
All that we did for the last year and a half was worth it to have our kids back. It’s tiring and time- consuming, but they’re our kids. We made the mistake. We fixed it. It’s worth it to have our babies under one roof, knowing they’re secure in their family and in their home.
We need foster parents to support sibling groups of two or more, ranging in ages up to 17. You can help strengthen a family like Shaquita’s.