WILMINGTON — Marian Miller doesn’t plan on having another baby. But she felt she wasn’t done being a mom, so she renewed her foster parenting license in fall of 2019 and got a phone call in February 2020 asking for short-term help for an infant.
It’s turned out to be not so short-tern.
The 4-month-old girl is now 18 months old and remains under Miller’s care, and then this year in January a 17-year-old girl was placed within Miller’s family.
“It’s been exhausting and humbling and 100 percent worth it,” remarked Miller.
As for key influencers on the path to foster care, Miller said she and her siblings were raised by their parents to be helpers, plus a city hall work colleague with foster parenting experience noted rightly it was now the turn for Miller’s generation to be foster parents.
She recalls a time during her training when the instructor was going over how to identify and recognize the trauma that many children who are placed into foster care have experienced.
“You’re getting trained on how to respond to something that happened to a kid that you can’t even imagine happening to a kid,” Miller said.
She is the City Administrator of Wilmington, a job with a lot of responsibility. When she’s exhausted she is inspired to keep being a foster mom by, for instance, “having a 17-year-old girl who tells you she loves you and she thanks you for keeping her safe.”
And further inspiration comes, she said, at the occasion of the milestones reached by the infant while under her care. Miller was there for the first birthday, the first word, the first step.
One of the best things about her own foster parenting, she said, has been watching her 7-year-old birth daughter adapt and mature into a loving big sister and little sister. Miller has seen her young daughter expand her capacity for love and patience and generosity.
It’s been about four months since the teenager was placed in the Miller home, and Miller feels like she is getting to know her.
“There’s only so much a teenager will let you in on their lives, but I feel like she’s a very special kid who wants to be part of my family, and has really flourished under a safe environment,” she said.
Miller has received lots of support and love from a network of family, friends and neighbors — and perhaps even strangers — in her foster parenting as a single mother.
A neighbor takes the initiative to baby sit the infant for a couple hours for the express purpose of providing Miller time for herself. Friends offer to drop off milk to subtract an errand from the day’s busyness. Diapers have been left off on the front porch with no note identifying the giver.
It’s like everybody in her life has stepped up to love these children, she said.
As a foster mom, she maintains a focus, realizing that she cannot control everything.
“If all I can do is keep these two girls safe and teach them what healthy love looks like and what reliable love looks like, then so be it. I’m OK with that.”
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.