Bridgetta Sylvain experienced foster care firsthand as a child. Growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she and her siblings were placed in different homes multiple times, enduring separations and living in group settings.
“I vividly recall the emptiness I felt while waiting in the DFCS worker’s office, fearing I might never see my siblings or mom again,” Sylvain said. “The separation from my siblings weighed heavily on me, worrying about their safety and whether they had enough to eat.”
Many of her cousins, Sylvain said, faced the darker aspects of the foster care system, including incidents of sexual assault and food deprivation.
“My experience as a former foster child enables me to deeply understand the fear and uncertainty that these children experience when they are removed from their homes,” said Sylvain, who as an adult became a foster parent herself with her husband. After fostering several children, the couple moved from Tennessee to Georgia, where Sylvain decided she wanted to have a more significant impact on the foster care system. In 2020, she founded It Is Well Foster Care, an agency that for the past three years has provided oversight for foster families to ensure children placed in their homes are safe and loved.
In March, the agency was granted a contract with the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services to begin placing children in licensed foster homes under the department’s supervision.
“Drawing from my own time in foster care, I believe I possess a unique advantage in relating to and sympathizing with youth in care,” Sylvain said. “This firsthand understanding of their emotions drives me to extend extra compassion and effort in connecting with them.
“It’s as if I can truly grasp what they are feeling,” she continued, “inspiring me to approach them with added grace and understanding that might be harder for those who haven’t experienced foster care themselves.”
Sylvain shares the following advice for families considering fostering a child:
“I would tell them make sure they educate themselves on the foster care system and the current needs for their area so that they can make an informed decision when considering becoming a foster parent. Make sure their motives are pure and clear. Is it to provide a stable and loving home for a child in need, or are there other motivations? Many times, foster parents forget that our main goal is reunification whenever possible. They become attached to the children and sometimes interfere with parents’ efforts to get their children back. They must prepare themselves emotionally as fostering has many ups and downs that comes with caring for children who may have experienced trauma or difficult circumstances.
“To individuals who have never considered foster care but may be great candidates to help a child in need of a home, I would offer the following message,” Sylvain continued. “Consider the profound impact you can make in a child’s life by opening your heart and home to foster care. While you may have never thought about it before, your compassion, stability, and love can provide a lifeline to a child facing challenging circumstances. Here are some reasons why you should explore foster care – By becoming a foster parent, you have the power to transform a child’s life. Your support can help them heal, grow, and thrive in a safe and loving environment. Fostering isn’t just about giving; it’s also about personal growth. You’ll learn invaluable life lessons, enhance your empathy, and create lasting bonds with children. As a foster parent, you can be a positive role model for a child who may not have had one before. Your influence can shape their future in profound ways. There is a critical need for loving foster homes across the country. Your willingness to step forward can help address this urgent need. Take a moment to explore the possibility of foster care in your life. You may discover a deeply rewarding path that not only benefits a child but also brings fulfillment and purpose to your own life. Every child deserves a chance to thrive, and you have the potential to provide that chance.”
FEATURED PHOTO: Bridgetta Sylvain, founder of It Is Well Foster Care, accepts a donation of night-lights collected for foster children from Wrenna Ace Henderson. Wrenna was in foster care before being adopted. She collected the night-lights for a community project for a pageant. Photo courtesy of It Is Well Foster Care.