TEMPLETON — My mom once told me it’s not the grand gestures that make someone so special, but their words of encouragement, especially in the time of need, that can mean the most. It didn’t take me long to realize just how true that statement was, especially in regard to my relationship with her.
While most of us know a mother’s love and emotional availability are vital to their children’s well being, many of us do not realize the profound and long-lasting impact they have in regard to the development of young children.
Tammy, a local North County mom and resident who requested that her last name be kept confidential, understands that impact all too well.
“I have been fostering children for the past 15 years,” Tammy said. “My husband, Dennis, and I have five kids of our own so we only started off with one, but once the oldest turned 18 we took on another and we’ve stuck with it since.”
Tammy and Dennis are apart of San Luis Obispo County’s Options For Recovery program, and temporarily house children ages 0-5 whose parents have been affected by substance use.
“The program places children while helping the birth parents overcome their substance abuse,” Tammy said. “They meet with them periodically and develop life, parenting and other simple skills that they haven’t been able or are struggling to implement.”
Children in need are often only in such a position because of their parent’s lifestyle, Tammy said.
“They aren’t presented with the same opportunities as other children so it’s amazing to just see the progress they make in our home,” Gallagher said.
The foundation Tammy provides children is more than just emotional, it’s physical, too.
“Fostering can be definitely be difficult,” Tammy said. “It requires a lot of time and dedication. I have to supervise everything like doctor appointments, check-ups... all of that. It’s important for me to be there though so that I can develop a bond and create some sort of caretaker relationship with the child.”
As difficult as this process can be for Tammy and her husband, the pair have also had to consider the wellbeing of their own children.
“I’ve always wanted to work with young children and felt they would have the least effect,” Tammy said. “To be honest though, all of my kids have been really supportive throughout the years. They’ve always been very loving and even today, are still heavily involved.”
The children, both biological and foster, are not the only ones who’ve learned a lot. Tammy and Dennis, whose house currently consists of four of their own children and three foster children, have probably learned the most important lessons of all.
“We opened our home as a place for these children to heal and I am proud to say I think we’ve been able to do just that.” Tammy said. “Each and every one of these children has left an imprint on our hearts in their own ways.”