Tris Meyers is a fan-favorite and known in Bananaland as the Man Nandalorian, Man-Nana. On game day, you’ll find Tris running around the stadium bringing enthusiastic energy and smiles to the crowd. What fans don’t see is Tris’s involvement in the foster care community. Tris and his wife, Christina, are foster parents. They have three biological children, two adopted children from a kinship placement, and one child in care. Their three biological children are married and their oldest son and daughter-in-law have their first (what they hope will be many) grandchildren.
THE ROAD TO FOSTER CARE
Tris and Christina have been a licensed foster family on and off for the last 15 years. After a difficult beginning in his life, Tris was drawn to being a foster parent.
“My life was pretty crazy,” Tris said. “I had other kid’s parents act as foster parents for me growing up. Seeing that home life and what a family should look like, it gave me a passion.”
Both Christina and Tris are driven by their faith and that takes a huge part of what they do and why they do it. In 2007, the couple initially were licensed through a private agency. After a couple of placements a situation came up that placed their niece and nephew into their care and thus putting their foster home on pause in 2012.
“Our niece and nephew needed a place to go and we took them in thinking they would stay with us for a few weeks,” Christina said. “Weeks turned to months, months turned to years and then we approached their mom to adopt them.”
When the family decided to pursue foster care again in 2016, they had 2 biological children at home and now adopted their niece and nephew. However, now having older children they expressed the importance of getting everyone on the same page.
Christina said, “it’s really important to be honest and talk with your biological children and make sure they are comfortable in this process. Make sure your family is aware of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Include your support group and make sure everyone is in on your plans.”
Unlike before, this time the Meyers went directly to license with the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) instead of renewing their license through an agency. However, due to understaffing in the department, their certification took two years.
“If you give one case worker 20 kids to care for, they will be overwhelmed,” Tris said.
Frustrated and feeling like it wasn’t meant to be, the Meyers left it in the department’s hands. If the department needed a family, they could reach out and let them know. Sure enough, in December of 2018, the department had one more document for the family to sign, and two-days later they had a placement.
Tris and Christina looked at one another and said, “God had plans for that child to live with us and that timing was meant to be.”
Since they began back in 2007, the Meyers have had 30 children and/or teens in and out of their home. They are now moving into Respite Care. Respite Care are foster families that provide brief stays in their home for other foster families who need a break, a trip, or for DFCS to place someone in care temporarily while finding a permanent placement. This time allows other foster parents time for self-care and reduces stress.
“Some foster parents have this thought, ‘oh I’ll have two or three kids in my house at a time,’ but I would strongly say that does not need to be the case,” Christina said. “Some homes are set up to handle that but not everyone is up for that kind of environment.”
Foster children and teens are introduced to some type of trauma in their life. Having different children in your home that will bring in their own traumas can affect the other children in your care.
Tris said, “we are so careful as to how many children we can accommodate and take in based on their needs. Right now in our season of life, we both work, volunteer, and it’s not the right season for us to accept another child that has needs beyond what we can give.”
The call for another placement is hard to turn down, but it’s a reminder that the solution for the foster care community is more foster families.
Christina agreed with Tris and added, “that makes the ones who are fostering feel bad because we can’t take everyone.”
THE MOMENTS WE LIVE FOR
Currently the Meyers have one child in their foster home but they encourage everyone to get involved.
“Unfortunately, we have one in our home and there are 35 others who need somewhere to go,” Christina said. “We need more families. If everyone just took in one child, we would not be in the crisis we are in in this state, where children have nowhere to go.”
The Meyers having biological, adopted, and foster children know that this process is not easy but they do it anyway. They realize the sacrifice for the parents and still they offer their home to a child who needs them.
“People should understand up front, it’s not easy,” they said. “Foster care is not rewarding, it’s going to be hard but parenting is hard, whether they are your foster, adopted, or biological children. The greatest part is doing this together and the moments you share are the moments you’ll live for.”