After having two children of their own, Bruce and Tarsha Adams decided they wanted to look into adoption. They enrolled in an adoption class to learn more, but quickly realized the class focused on therapeutic foster care.
They took the class 18 years ago. Since then, they have fostered 15 children with Lutheran Services Carolinas (LSC).
“You want them to have the best life because you see a lot of kids out here that don’t have a family,” Tarsha Adams said. “We’ve got to give them what they didn’t get at home. We give it to them and love them.”
A balancing act
Members of LSC’s foster care team say Bruce and Tarsha add balance to each other’s foster parenting styles. The kids treat them like most kids treat their biological parents, they go to one for one matter and the other parent for another matter.
Each parent has a different approach to addressing the needs of the child they are fostering, especially since those needs might be greater than expected. LSC’s Therapeutic Foster Care program serves youth who need a higher level of care due to their emotional, behavioral, and/or medical needs.
“I always tell the kids, ‘When you come here you’ve got a new start,’” Tarsha Adams said. “What you do here determines your future. You can do better and be better.”
The Adams’ have their own farm in rural North Carolina where they raise hogs and cows. The family, including the foster children, work on the farm together. As Bruce Adams says, “If you leave this house off of Highway 97, you are going to know what it’s like to feed hogs.”
“Everything we do, we do together. If I ask you to wash the dishes, we are going to be with you while you are washing the dishes. If you are mowing the grass, one of us is out there with you,” Bruce Adams said. “I won’t ask you to do it by yourselves because we are a family, and we have to work as a group.”
Once the foster children get the routine down, then they get to spend more time with Tarsha Adams. Some of her favorite things to do are take them to the movies or to a local theme park to drive go-carts and play mini golf. She said she wants them to have fun and be kids while they still can.
You can always come home
Tarsha and Bruce smile when they talk about some of the children who were placed in their care. Many of them still call or stop by and visit, even as adults.
One of those children was a girl who lived with them from age 13 to 18. The couple said she was their biggest success story. She is like a biological daughter to them.
“It was nothing for her to have multiple zeros on her report card. But when she left, she was all but on the A/B Honor Roll,” Bruce Adams said. “She came a long way.”
If their former placements do visit, Bruce Adams says they can guarantee they will get a nice, warm meal around the table.
Having a heart for it
The Adams look forward to continuing to serve many more children with LSC. They added that the training they’ve received through the nonprofit is excellent, especially when they are learning about children in therapeutic care.
“The training is great. You can call the LSC teammates and they will help you figure out any problem,” Bruce Adams said. “We always discuss the best way of addressing the issue before I come back to the kid.”
When asked what qualities people who are thinking about becoming foster parents need, the couple said patience and communication skills. But most importantly, they said people need to have a heart for the children.
“You need to have a good heart,” Tarsha Adams said. “They (the children) are coming from everything they know. You need to have a heart for it.”