By Bobbi Gagnon
Family Resource Specialist
KidsPeace, South Portland, Maine
By the time Lorrie and Rob Rowan met and got married, they already had raised a combined total of six kids to adulthood. Now, in the next chapter of their lives, they have taken on the role of licensed therapeutic foster parents with KidsPeace – and are very excited about this new adventure! They feel better suited for this job now more so than they would have been at a younger age; Lorrie shared that she was way too busy in her earlier life to have been up for such a challenging task.
When asked what works for them in regards to keep up with the demands of being therapeutic foster parents, Lorrie and Rob were very clear about the necessary elements:
- Have everyone get adequate amounts of sleep.
- Keep up with a healthy diet for the whole family.
- Maintain consistent, structured schedules that keep the kids busy.
Lorrie and Rob experience great joy in seeing the progress made when the kids in their home are able to benefit from these three things on a regular basis.
Often, Lorrie says, kids will come into care appearing as “hollow, empty shells … with their guard up.” Once they have had the opportunity to become more settled, and begin to trust the Rowans as caregivers, some great work can begin. With multiple placements currently in their home, it is an ongoing effort to help the kids understand that they work to do the best for the whole unit and not just for any one individual. Successful family functioning involves a great deal of cooperation!
As Lorrie runs down her schedule for Thursdays alone: “tutoring, counseling, visitation, appointments, etc.,” it is abundantly clear that organization and time management are truly her strengths! She is quick to give credit to Rob too, as sometimes extra help is needed – especially involving transportation – to ensure that everyone is where they need to be.
According to the Rowans, one aspect that is most difficult about being therapeutic foster parents is the lack of information that comes with the arrival of a new placement. “Kids typically don’t trust, and often they don’t even know why they do what they do!” Lorrie says. “So you have to guess why there are particular behaviors being displayed. It would be helpful to have more information upon placement, but we do what we can with what we know.”
Lorrie and Rob Rowan are down-to-earth, very upbeat individuals who tend to see the glass half full as opposed to half empty. They feel they are in a unique position of attending to what is right for the kids themselves, not having their own agendas to contend with. They truly enjoy the opportunity to give these kids love and stability for however long they can.
The Rowans understand that their efforts can’t always be replicated once family reunification occurs for these kids, but they take comfort in knowing they have “planted the seeds” for these kids to take better care of themselves, to be considerate of others, and to work hard for the things they want for themselves. Great lessons for us all!