NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio — May is National Foster Care month, and there are thousands in Cuyahoga County, alone, who need loving homes. While the need is great in our area for more foster parents, the Medvid Family, of North Olmsted, sat down with us recently about why they opened up their hearts and doors to so many deserving kids.
We visited the Medvid Family on a balmy day in May. It had just rained, so three of the nine children they currently have in their home, were happily jumping and splashing around the backyard. From the outside, you’d never know some of the trauma any of them have endured, or how it changed the course of their lives forever.
Rebecca Medvid says it takes a certain type of person to be a foster parent. After all, many of these kids have had their childhoods taken from them, so it’s important to know going in, that they need help getting that back, little by little.
“It’s not all pretty. Obviously it’s a system which these kids have broken relationships from the start. Foster care breaks up families. And, so, you’re dealing with a lot of devastation and you’re dealing with a lot of brokenness to begin with,” Rebecca said. “Not everyone is called to foster. And that’s OK. It’s definitely a calling, and it’s not meant for everyone.”
Rebecca and husband Brian have been fostering children for six years. Their inspiration began in Honduras, where they served on a mission trip through church. Soon, they hopped on board, taking classes, undergoing home studies, and finally, preparing with open hearts for their first foster child – all, while expecting one of their own.
“We got the call when I was at an ultrasound for my first son, my biological son,” Rebecca said. “I pretty much got the call, they asked we’d take placement on this newborn baby, and we said, ‘sure.’”
The Medvids ended up adopting their first foster child, a little girl. Soon after, they received a call that she had a brother. They took him in, too, forever.
“Sibling preservation is very important to keep siblings together when it’s possible, and when it’s safe and appropriate,” Rebecca said.
The family is also trying to give forever homes to two more siblings – brothers – who were both born addicted to fentanyl. And while special circumstances have allowed them to take their children in permanently, they caution that adoption shouldn’t always be the answer.
“We’re very quick to tell people, the foster care system is about fostering, and reunifying is the goal,” Rebecca said. “You are supposed to be sort of a stepping stone for these kids.”
It’s a stepping stone that’s building a permanent foundation of love, life lessons and trust.
“We’re not just taking care of children, we’re taking care of the next generation,” Rebecca said.
“We just kind of take it day by day. Sometimes, minute by minute. Second by second. We’re just trying to love them with all we have, and give them the love and care that they need, whether it be temporary, whether it be for a year, whether it be forever.
How does a person garner such strength, such generosity, such forgiveness, to not only extend that kind of love to children in the foster care system, but also to their parents, who didn’t necessarily give them the best start?
“I’m not a perfect person. You have to understand that everyone isn’t perfect,” Rebecca said. “Some of these birth parents were probably the same children, 15-20 years ago, that we would have been providing for. A lot of these parents may not have had the best upbringing. And in some uncertain terms, they don’t know any better.”
It’s never easy saying goodbye to each child who stays with the Medvid Family. They grow attached to each one, something, they say, is so desperately needed. Their hope, Rebecca says, is that they’ll take the love with them when they move on.
“Everything’s hard anytime … whether you have the kids for three days or three years,” Rebecca said. “These kids need attachment. These kids need somebody to love them unconditionally and care for them. And they deserve us to get too attached.”
The topic of parents comes up often with foster children. They want to know what happened … when they can see mom and dad again. Rebecca says they handle it gently, and in terms kids can understand.
“We always phrase it to our kids, especially our school age kids, that their parents have to work on some homework. Their parents have to work on some homework to be able to be safe, so that they can be able to go home,” Rebecca explained.
“We don’t get to make the decision, they don’t get to make the decision. It wasn’t their fault that they’re in the system. Because a lot of these kids bare the consequence of feeling like, they’re the reason that they’re in the system when they’re not.
They also need the reassurance, that even for a short time, they are right where they belong. And for Brian and Rebecca Medvid, they just want these kids to heal, as they love them through their toughest moments.
“That they know that they’re loved, treasured, desired, wanted. That we hope for them that they can reclaim some of their childhoods. We hope that their parents can make the changes that they need to make, because a lot of these children desperately want to be back home with their parents if they can.”
For the Medvid’s, fostering is who they are. It’s their calling. And, they’re in it for the long haul.
“We know that the need is there, so as long as we have the time, the availability, the open space, I foresee us continuing,” Rebecca said.
Often times, people want to help foster families, but aren’t sure how. Rebecca says, it’s the little things that help the most.
“Sometimes all it is is a meal. You know, getting a first placement, and you have a fussy baby that you have to take care of and get to know. It’s just someone saying, ‘hey, you know, I’m going to drop off a meal,’ or someone just swinging by with some clothes for a new placement, because a lot of these kids come with just the clothes on their back. Sometimes, just a listening ear,” Rebecca said.
“Just coming over to rock a baby so you can take a shower or make some phone calls or whatever.
The Medvid Family works with many different organizations around Northeast Ohio. If you’d like to learn more about fostering, or how to help, click on the below links.
For more information on Cleveland Angels Non-Profit, click HERE.
For more information on Lakewood Area Collaborative, click HERE.
For more information on Parma Family Collaborative, click HERE.