Elle Garrison

I had a great career, I had bought my own home, and I had a nice new car. Right when life was easy and simple, I saw some facebook posts from a couple friends in my area talking about sibling groups coming into foster care. Both posts explained that the siblings had to be separated because there was not a home that had space to take them together.

I couldn’t imagine being ripped away from the only people I knew and loved and being separated from my siblings. These children have absolutely no control over anything and are forced to leave their home, their school, and all their belongings. It seemed like at the very least, siblings should be able to stay together. I felt such a heartache for these children that I had never even met. I couldn’t shake the heaviness of knowing about this need and not doing something about it. I kept looking at my extra bedrooms and I knew I could be a safe place for children. I knew I would be able to keep siblings together. I knew I had to say yes to foster care.  

I started making some calls to numbers I saw online. I am a single woman, so I wasn’t even sure they would let me foster. I finally got a call back from a local DFCS worker who said, it didn’t matter if I was single and signed me up for IMPACT classes. I attended those classes and did all the required paperwork, CPR and background checks. My last day of IMPACT training was on my 30th birthday. 

Two months later, I got my first placement and it was two brothers. I was asked to keep them temporarily as respite because the foster family was going to be out of town. These two boys had so many behavioral issues and very difficult to work with. I remember thinking, “can I do this?” This experience stretched me in so many ways and I got to see a side of my community I had never been exposed to. It opened my eyes to all the needs so close to where I live. I had kept the boys for two weeks and it was a lot but it confirmed to me that this is what I was supposed to do. This was my purpose. 

Shortly after they left, I got a call for three brothers and over nine years I received a lot of calls about placements. I was able to love many children in difficult circumstances. I fostered so many different types of children, from a baby in a half body cast that had experienced abuse, to a pregnant teen who just got out of jail. Some of these children came for a night, some came for years, and some came forever, but they all got a piece of my heart. This changed my world in the best possible way. Not only did I get to invest in the children in my home, but I also got to love the parents and grandparents who were at, or close to rock bottom. It brought me so much joy to love and support these people who were in such a hard place. 

I eventually adopted my oldest daughter and one of my foster sons. When he was three and a half years old, his biological brother was born. He ended up being placed with me when he was seven months old. After seven months in my care, that same birth mother gave birth to another baby boy, who ended up being placed with me. At that point, I had my oldest who was 14 years old, and five boys that were all five and under. It was the best kind of chaos. 

Two years later, I ended up adopting my son’s two biological brothers. I also adopted another boy, who ended up having a biological brother who was placed with me when he was thirteen months. Not too long after, I adopted the brother. I will forever be thankful that I was able to keep these two sets of brothers together. 

There is nothing that has defined my life more than Foster Care. The things I have learned about life and this world through the foster care lens, changed everything for me. It can be so hard but I would say yes to foster care over and over again. Foster care is rooted in a lot of loss, grief, and trauma. However, it is also full of joy and redemption. Being a single mom to seven kids has changed the trajectory of my life.

Knowing that I have been able to play a small role that made a big impact for so many families…makes everything worth it.” 

If you or someone you know is a foster family and are interested in sharing your story with us, please visit Tell Your Story.

Created by Lexi Yoder, Bananas Foster