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What it's like to be a foster parent for separated migrant kids

Rachel and Adam
Bethany Christian Services
Foster care parents Rachel and Adam have housed three children seperated from their parents in flight or at the border.


Young children separated from their families at the border cannot be held in immigration detention centers for more than three days. After 72 hours, the Office of Refugee Resettlementlooks to find a shelter or foster care home for the child.  


Rachel and Adam live in Michigan and have been foster care parents through Bethany Christian Services for two years. We are not using their last names to protect the identities of their foster children.

Since February, they have opened their home to three young children who were separated from their parents at the border: a four-year-old boy, an eight-month-old girl, and a four-year-old girl.

They spoke to Stateside's April Van Buren about their experience caring for these children and creating a sense of safety after the trauma.

“I don’t know if they understand that much,” Adam said. “I think they are coming to terms as four-year-olds with this idea that, 'I’m in a different home and it’s an indefinite thing.' I can't even fathom how a four-year-old does that. 'Why am I separated from parents? Why am I with these strange people who talk different, speak different, and eat different than I do?'”

Rachel and Adam face many of the challenges any parent faces. Sometimes the children don't want to go to bed or are picky about their food. But Rachel and Adam also have to explain to a four-year-old where their mom or dad is, an especially challenging question if the answer is an immigration detention center. 

Every night when Rachel and Adam put the four-year-old girl who is currently staying with them to bed, she asks for her grandma.

“It's so hard to tell her each night, 'I’m sorry honey she’s not here,'” Adam said “It's heartbreaking to see that. But each night we do our best to help her put the pieces together, to find some sort of comfort — our daughter helps with that. Eventually, she’ll run out of tears. But I don’t think a four-year-old should run out of tears — not every night.” 

Listen above to hear more of Rachel and Adam's story. 

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Sophie Sherry. 

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Stateside is produced daily by a dedicated group of producers and production assistants. Listen daily, on-air, at 3 and 8 p.m., or subscribe to the daily podcast wherever you like to listen.
April Van Buren is a producer for Stateside. She produces interviews for air as well as web and social media content for the show.
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