As farmers, Sarah and Brandon Bowers know that growth doesn’t happen overnight. Growth takes time and effort, light, warmth, nurture, patience, and honestly, a lot of hard work. While they have spent the last several years nurturing chickens, rabbits, cows and many other farm animals, for the last few months they have been nurturing and loving their foster son, D*. The Bowers met at Clemson University and after college they got married and Sarah moved to run the family farm with Brandon. They had their daughter, Romney Ann, and were working hard, busy with farm and family life. However, they knew in the back of their minds that foster care was something that they would like to explore. After both Sarah and Brandon began working at Thornwell, they realized that there is never a perfect time to foster and that the need is now.
During Thornwell’s annual foster care conference, a speaker shared his story of being a foster child in California. He had bounced around from home to home when he arrived at his final placement, a family with a farm. There he found love, safety, and security. His favorite part of the farm was with the chickens, his own little retreat from the outside world. Brandon looked at Sarah during the presentation and said, “We have chickens.” Two weeks later they reached out to Epworth to begin the process of becoming licensed foster parents. Shortly after, they learned about D. D had been in group care for the last five years. Once they were licensed, D came to them as their first placement, on International Day of Happiness. As a child of trauma with years in the foster care system, the Bowers knew that it would be a process and a learning curve with D as a part of their family, but they took it day by day. They invested in D by taking the extra time to kick the soccer ball after dinner, to lie on the living room floor and color, to teach him about the farm and how to gather the eggs and feed the rabbits. D is still learning a lot about life in the Bowers family and life on the farm. Every day the Bowers are able to see signs of growth, from his patience with his new little sister Romney Ann to the realization that it is okay to make mistakes, and ask for forgiveness, to the desire to learn new skills like playing the clarinet.
The Bowers and D are taking life one day at a time. It is hard, but rewarding work. There are no days off for farmers or foster parents.
*Child’s name changed for confidentiality