Jointly nominated for Foster Family of the Year, Nikki and Chris have been fostering for seven years, and Nikki is a well-respected mentor in the Calgary and District Foster Parents Association Mentor Program. Their fostering journey began 10 years ago when they welcomed a kinship placement into our home. Nikki goes on to explain, “The kinship process (which led to adoption) helped us realize that our family had more love to give so we eventually became a licensed foster family. We have had the pleasure of fostering multiple little ones who have returned home to parents and have also bridged the gap prior to kids transitioning to adoption.   We’ve also adopted 3 along the way.”

Their ability to work hard and efficiently to advocate for the best interests and well-being of kids in their home, remaining a support for natural families after children have transitioned back to parental care while still being an ongoing support, and driving miles and miles to support case plans and keep familial connections, are some of the reasons that this couple was nominated. One reason that made Chris and Nikki stand out however, occurred during restrictions and lockdown, when they offered a space in their home for supervised visitation between a recent infant placement and her Mom. Ensuring all Covid-19 protocols were being followed, they created a space for Mom and baby to have their visits in a way that was private, comfortable, and away from the rest of the family, and gave them the opportunity for meaningful connection. Without their home as an option, the family would not have been able to do the work necessary to achieve reunification. As one of their nominators noted, “This gesture was so incredibly kind and supportive and meant so much more to mom than I think Nikki (or Chris) will ever understand.”

Over the last nine months, Nikki, Chris, and this Mom have really built such a strong and loving relationship, and “being a significant support to Mom who just needed someone to believe in her” has been a highlight for them as well. Nikki shares, “She stole my heart as quickly as the baby did!  Baby recently returned to Mom, and we were fortunate enough to play a role in this healthy reunification and we will continue to be involved in her life. In fact, we still have contact with all the kids who have left our home, either back to bio parents or to an adoptive home which is amazing for us.”

Nikki offers these words of wisdom for new foster families, “Hang in there! It’s a wild ride BUT it’s all worth it.  Allow your heart to fall in love and give them everything they deserve and more. The ‘work’ of fostering is hard and often heartbreaking, but the benefits far outweigh the cost.”  These words give a glimpse into the heart of this couple, which is also echoed by their joint nominators, “Nikki and Chris have always been mindful, attentive and empathetic towards natural families and their experiences. They have always regarded natural family with respect and care, and even in challenging situations they honour who the child is, and the family the child came from. This is evidenced in every placement that has been through their home.” In summary, “…one of the most beautiful things that sets Nikki aside…is her genuine care for the biological families and how much she is willing to put into supporting with the goal of reunification. To love so selflessly, to care so deeply and to go so above and beyond to offer support where possible…this isn’t something that can be learned or taught. This is just the way that Nikki is.”

Thank you, Nikki and Chris, for your beautiful example of love; congratulations on being Foster Family of the Year!