ST. GEORGE — A foster mother in St. George got a nice Mother’s Day surprise. Amber Page was named Utah’s Foster Mother of the Year for her service.
Ben Ashcraft, the lead foster-adoptive consultant in the Southwest Region of Utah Foster Care, presented Page with a gift basket on Wednesday at the Utah Foster Care office in St. George.
“I was surprised to get this,” Page said. “There are probably a lot harder cases out there, you know, with teenagers doing teenager things. So I feel like, sure, maybe I deserve the award but I feel like all the foster moms out there deserve it too.”
Page is foster mom to five children, all boys. Three of them are below the age of four and have her running around all day everyday.
Ironically, Page and her husband Bert got into being foster parents with the hope of caring for a newborn baby girl.
“So no girls, but we’re just rolling with it,” Page said.
She said that maybe the award should be for foster parents of the year, as Bert is very much an equal partner in caring for the youngsters.
“We are co-parents. I could never take care of five boys by myself,” Page said. “I feel like maybe my husband deserves something from this gift basket too.”
The foster parents developed a parenting plan that puts the children first.
“We have a good system. It helps, it makes things great,” Page said. “Our kids are happy, they thrive well, they sleep good. Our main goal is what’s most important for these kids, so we advocate for them as much as we can.
“We love them like they’re our own,” she added. “I look at them and I can see myself in them, and my husband. I can see them like they’re ours.”
The children and the nature of the work makes being a foster mom a tough job.
“You have to be open to all of the challenges that come along with it, because it’s from one end of the spectrum to the other,” Page said. “You never know what you’re going to get with each individual child.”
According to statistics provided to St. George News by Ashcraft, in Utah there are some 2,500 children in foster care at any given time and 1,200 licensed foster/adoptive families.
Children in foster care often have special needs due to neglect, abuse or separation. In Utah, most children are in foster care for about 12 months.
Two-thirds of the children who enter foster care return to live with their birth parents or other relatives.
“There is a need for it. There are kids that need to feel loved and need to feel like they have a home in this world,” Page said. “They need to feel like they have parents that care, that can take care of them even if things are hard, that they have support in their life. I think everyone deserves that.”
The rewards far outweigh the costs when it comes to being a foster parent.
“It is definitely a lot of work and you have to be willing to let your heart break, because my heart’s been broken a lot,” Page said. “The reward for having your heart broken is knowing that you love them with your whole heart. That is the reward. You gave them everything you had.”
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