Foster mom’s passion to help teen boys drives them to success
When Angela Humphrey became a foster parent, she decided she would open her doors to the kids many thought would be too rowdy or rebellious to take in – teenage boys
She knew teens would be a good fit for her home. The daughter of a coach, Angela’s childhood home was a neighborhood hub for the kids her father coached. She wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps to be a positive force in the lives of teens.
Angela decided to dive into foster care when she learned how many foster teens were at risk for dropping out of school, and how few went on to achieve higher education.
“I felt like this was the group that most people walked away from, and didn’t want to take a chance with,” Angela said. “But I was always the type of person who was up for the challenge. I thought that would be the best avenue for me.”
Angela was determined not to walk away from any child. For example, one of her foster boys, Christian, was in danger of failing 8th grade and wanted to drop out of school. However, she knew he was capable of doing the work. She asked the principal if he could still advance to the high school, and make up the work he’d failed in junior high without being retained.
“At first she said no, and I cried and cried and cried,” Angela said. “But eventually, she told me she saw how diligent and dedicated I was to this boy, and she had a change of heart and was going to pass him. So he went to high school, and all four years there, he never had any issues.”
On his last day of high school, Angela went with him to meet with his Arrow caseworker. The board in the conference room had dropout rates written on it, and unprompted, he remarked on how high they were, and how easily he could have become one of those statistics on the board.
“It all came full circle,” Angela said.
Another foster child who Angela is extremely proud of is D. D is a very hard worker who not only completed high school, but is now taking a full course load in college and is an assistant manager at Domino’s Pizza. Even though he is old enough to have “aged out” of the system, the love and support Angela showed him lead him to choose to stay in her home in extended care. Now, he is a role model for his foster brothers and sisters.
“He lets them know, ‘I was once where you are,'” she said. “He lets them know that when I’m tough on them, it’s because I love them.”
Besides Christian and D, Angela has fostered dozens of other children. She said people hesitate to bring teens into their homes because they think they are set in their ways and will be rebellious, but she said anyone can change for the better, no matter their age.
“Not every teenager wants your love, at first,” she said. “What they want most is your understanding, and with understanding comes respect, and with respect come trust, and with trust comes love.”
But Angela was not alone fostering these kids. Her grown son and daughter, Darryl and Deonna, both became foster parents too, and have been a significant help. Angela said seeing her children become foster parents was among the proudest moments of her life.
She’s particularly enjoyed being a “foster grandmother” to even more kids in need, and they in turn have inspired her, especially a boy named Ben, who her son fostered. Angela and her son were incredibly close to Ben, but he passed away from cancer in 2013.
“Ben gave us courage,” Angela said. “Whenever you think you have it bad, try being the kid in foster care who has cancer. He gave us the courage to keep going on.”
Angela continues to foster in honor of Ben. She’s fostered more than 70 children, and is currently fostering 6 children with a 7th on the way.
If you, like Angela, have a heart for foster teens, we would love to give you more information on how to become a foster parent. Go to www.arrow.org/foster to learn more.