Connecting families: Adoption/Foster Connection expo, Sept. 19
ANTHEM – Kelley Camasto’s home is a busy place – and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She and her husband Paul have nine children, who are all adopted or are in the adoption process.
“About 10 years ago, my husband and I decided to see what foster care was like,” Camasto shared. They went to classes and got licensed as foster care parents. From there, they took in their two oldest sons, and the family just kept growing. Camasto’s children range in age from 17 to four months.
Being an adoptive parent has both rewards and challenges, and Camasto, an Anthem resident, started the Anthem Foster Adoption and Foster Connection group to provide support to adoptive and foster parents, as well as share information on how to get started in the foster/adoption process.
“About a year ago, I started the Anthem Foster Adoption Connection,” Camasto said. “It’s a support group. Basically, when my husband and I got in 10 years ago, we didn’t have a lot of friends and family who knew much about adoption.” Camasto wanted to make the process easier for other parents. The group is presenting an adoption/foster expo at the Anthem Civic Building on Sept. 19.
Camasto noted that fostering or adopting can be daunting – multiple troubling stories go around regarding it. She recounted how she and her husband were nervous when they fostered and adopted the first time, but their worry turned out to be unnecessary.
“When we got our first two, they had already been in the system a long time, and when they came to live with us, they wanted a mom and a dad,” Camasto said. “From the first moment I met my oldest son, the moment I opened the door, he asked my husband, ‘Are you my new dad?’”
Nathania Vanderham, also an Anthem resident, is Camasto’s friend and neighbor. Vanderham and her husband started fostering last year. They fostered two little girls for about six months; the girls eventually went to live with their extended family.
“It was a really good transition,” Vanderham said. “Most people don’t want to foster because they’re afraid to give them up.” Vanderham noted that foster parents have to go into fostering with the mindset that the kids may go back and that “it’s for the kids and it’s best for them and they’re with family.”
“It’s really whatever’s best for the children – it’s not about us,” Vanderham emphasized. She currently is fostering two sisters while their parents work on obtaining services and doing what needs to be done in their own lives to create a safe, healthy environment for their children.
“My job as a foster is just to provide them just as much routine and security as I can and to help them the best that I can,” Vanderham said.
Vanderham has always wanted to be a foster mom; she notes that she had to “wait for the right time.”
“I taught for 10 years, and I had so many foster kids in my classes,” Vanderham said. “I loved them. I was always like – I just want to take them home! I just always had that passion for it (fostering) and wanted to.”
When Vanderham, who has three children, became a stay-at-home mom, she knew the time was right. She plans to continue fostering for as long as she can.
Camasto noted that there aren’t many nearby resources for north valley families thinking about fostering or adopting and that her goal through the Anthem Foster Adoption and Foster Connection group is to “help others foster and adopt.” With 17,000 Arizona kids in the foster care system, helping connect adopters with children who need a home is crucial.
The Anthem Foster Adoption and Foster Connection expo on Sept. 19 is free and open to the public. Representatives from multiple groups will be on-hand to answer questions and share information on the foster/adopt process.
The expo will run 1-3 p.m. at the Anthem Civic building. Join the Anthem Foster Adoption and Foster Connection Facebook group to see updates: www.facebook.com/groups/Anthemfosteradoptionfamily.