By Bethany Bomberger, Executive Director, The Radiance Foundation
Throughout my life I have met many amazing people, but none like my good friend Trudy. Trudy was the woman you couldn’t help but notice coming into church each week pushing her triple stroller, armed with more than one diaper bag, baby toys, bibs, bottles, medical equipment of some sort…and, without fail, her Dunkin Donuts iced coffee! Tim, her hubby, was never far behind. He was usually carrying, yes, another one or two baby seats with the sweetest little babies calmly playing with their toys!
When I actually met Trudy for the first time, my little girl was a newborn and I felt (like most new moms) that keeping together all of her various and sundry things was an overwhelming task! So, you can only imagine how awe inspiring it was to note Trudy’s air of confidence, unending patience and heartwarming smile. As I spent time with Trudy and our friendship grew I realized she was as special as she seemed to be! It is a delight to share with you, in Trudy’s own words, her motivation and inspirational perspective on fostering.
1. When did you start fostering? Tim and I started fostering in April of 2001.
2. What motivated you to initially become a foster parent? I believe the Lord laid it on my heart as a young girl. When Tim and I starting dating, we discussed how we wanted to be used by the Lord as a couple and what we felt His desire was for our lives. We discussed fostering children and both agreed that it was something we would like to do.
It is interesting because we never realized it would happen as soon as it did. After we were married, my father became ill with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Because we had just purchased our home and then, a month later, I was laid off from my job my dad moved in with us. God had made a way for me to be home to care for my father. While at home with him, I inquired about fostering and within 6 months, we received our first child.
3. What was it that inspired you to foster medically fragile children? We were caring for my father while going through the necessary training. When DYFS (Division of Youth & Family Services) found out that we had “medical” experience, they asked if we would be interested in caring for medically fragile children. We prayed and realized that was what we were called to do.
4. To date, how many children have you fostered? There have been 99 children that have come through our home.
5. How have you found fostering to be rewarding? Seeing the children blossom and grow. When a child comes to us, he/she is usually very fragile, due to neglect or abuse, our ambition is to nurture and love them unconditionally and care for them as our own. Through the years, we’ve cared for many children with broken bones/fractures, head injuries, chronic lung disease, starved, drug/alcohol exposure and addictions and many different serious illnesses (such as Cancer, Polio, Spina Bifida, etc.). Through prayer and God’s will, many of the children have been healed and overcome many obstacles.
Another way, we have found fostering to be rewarding has been finding “forever” homes for many of our children. God has placed people in our path that wanted a child. Many times, there would be a child in our home waiting to be placed with an adoptive family and God would bring someone into our life and it would be a perfect fit. We could be at the grocery store or a social event.
6. What has been the most challenging part of fostering for you? When a child leaves and the uncertainty of their future. Never knowing if you will see them again. We pray the Lord’s will for each child and that they will find Him as they grow up and he/she will be used by God.
7. What do you tell people who feel it would be too hard to temporarily foster a child then have to release them? We tell them, it’s not about us and how our emotions are affected. It is about the children and the fact that they would have no one if there were not foster families. They may never know what it is to be loved and have a family.
8. What do you feel is the most common myth about foster care? That foster kids are bad. You need to consider where they come from and what they have been exposed to and it’s not their fault. They didn’t choose the life their parents provided for them.
9. What words of encouragement/wisdom would you pass along to someone who is considering becoming a foster parent? We would tell them that there is no greater reward than seeing a child smile for the first time and being able to be a part of a child’s foundation for their life.
Tim and Trudy were blessed in 2002 to give birth to their son, Mason. In addition, they have adopted two of their beautiful foster children Morgan and Matthew (all seen above in top photo). As a family of 5, they are still fostering and continuing their legacy of love and compassion.
For me, one of the greatest lessons gleaned from Trudy is that to love unselfishly is to leave an indelible mark on our own community…and, ultimately, our world.