Mask family begins foster care journey
When Claire Mask went off to kindergarten, mom Jessica started her search for meaningful volunteer work. She called Bethany for Children & Families in Moline, and asked what she could do for the organization.
They asked if she would be interested in caring for the kids of foster families when the parents were in weekend trainings. Jessica said yes, and asked to be placed in the room with younger kids – babies and toddlers.
Her own daughters went with – the beginning of their journey as a foster family.
“We were there for about four hours. We held babies. When we left, we were hooked. Claire asked: ‘Can we take a baby home with us?’ Jessica said. “We volunteered again. I got the same reaction from the girls – they loved it.”
Jessica inquired about becoming a foster family. She wondered if they could specify the age and number of kids they preferred. The answer was yes. So Shawn and Jessica went through 10 weeks of training, background checks, paperwork, and three home visits.
The Mask family – mom Jessica; dad Shawn; and kids Will, 15; Emma, 13; and Claire, 10 – were awaiting their first foster placement as of press time. They have eagerly provided respite care to fellow foster families – taking care of kids for short periods of time to give the foster parents a break.
As part of their training, they were asked to write letters to their future foster kids.
“When you are with us, we will hold you, talk to you, sing to you, read to you, wipe your tears, if needed, or quietly sit with you until you are comfortable with us and being in our home. Our home is your home. You will find that our family has a lot of patience. We are a very kind and loving family. We are pretty sure you’ll come to like us and we know that we are going to love you.”
They wrote a letter to biological parents, too.
“We want and wish for you to get better so you can be reunited with your precious child as soon as possible. Until then, we’ll talk about you, show them pictures of you, and we’ll remind them that they’ll see you soon.
“Please know that while they are in our care, we will tenderly take care of them and keep them safe, for you. When they are in our vehicles, we’ll drive safely, knowing they’re precious cargo. They’ll have a soft bed to sleep in and warm food to eat. Every night, we will tuck them in, kiss them good night and wish them sweet dreams, all until you can.”