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L TO R: SWIGGART FOSTER DAUGHTER WITH DAUGHTERS OLIVIA AND AVERY AND DAD RUSSELL
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they could be placed with siblings. With one of those placements, Swiggart bridged with a young mom, changing their future plans.
them manage trauma and providing comfort.
“I asked Russell, ‘what if we could have helped her when she was pregnant the first time?’” said Swiggart. “I started getting a heart for teens, but it can be scary to have babies and bring a teenager in.”
Though it can be easy to fall into the trap of blaming biological parents or the foster care system or even previous foster families for a teen’s inability to feel safe or a toddler who experienced food anxiety because she was malnourished, Swiggart has realized that does nothing to improve the situation.
The Swiggarts and their caseworker considered what fostering a teenager would entail. Swiggart admits she was tired from fostering children age 4 and under for four years, and the idea of fostering a more independent child, who didn’t need help brushing teeth or buckling a car set, was appealing. Though apprehension caused them to drag their feet, they accepted a placement for a teen and realized she was just as afraid of the unknown as they were. The twins’ immediate ease and fascination with their new teen foster sister gave everyone a sense of comfort. After providing shortterm respite care to two more teen girls, the Swiggarts made an unexpected immediate connection with one, Randy, who would eventually become their third adopted daughter in 2017.
38 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / FEBRUARY 2019
“That gives me a peace that I don’t need anybody to be mad at,” said Swiggart. As Swiggart says when she speaks on behalf of Angels or talks to potential foster parents, parenting kids with trauma sounds scary, but every parent she knows has had scary moments. When potential foster parents tell her they feel they’re not even successfully parenting their own kids and couldn’t possibly meet the needs of kids from hard places, or who feel their messy family could only hurt a traumatized child further, she says it’s the honestly about those imperfections that normalizes the situation for a child whose biological parents didn’t have it all together, either.
“Everyone thinks Randy came first, but it was the twins,” marvels Swiggart. “It’s unconventional, but I love the unconventional.”
“Kids from hard places often feel weird or different, so the fact that we embrace the weirdness gives them a sense of comfort,” said Swiggart.
With the knowledge and resources she’s gained from the HALO program, Swiggart realized there’s not much difference in parenting a toddler and a teen as far as helping
Editor’s Note: For a realistic look inside the everyday lives of a metro foster family, follow Tammy Swiggart on Instagram @ confessionsfromfostering.
This is one part of a year-long series highlighting foster families in the Oklahoma City metro. For more, visit www.metrofamilymagazine.com/foster.
“We all want to feel validated and heard, whether 4 or 15,” said Swiggart.
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