In 2017, my husband and I embarked on an incredible journey that would forever change our lives - we decided to become foster parents. At that time, we already had three biological children, ages 9, 12, and 15, and we felt a strong calling to expand our family through adoption. We completed the necessary training through Utah Foster Care, which proved invaluable in preparing us for the challenges of welcoming children with trauma backgrounds into our home.
In December 2017, we received a life-changing call about a sibling group of four kids in need of a foster home. Although we hadn't initially considered fostering such a large group, and especially not kids as young as 5, 3, 2, and a newborn, something within us told us that these children were meant to be a part of our family. In February 2018, these four wonderful kids became a part of our family, and their adoption was finalized in December 2018. Our journey had officially begun, and it was nothing short of an adventure.
As we delved into this new chapter of our lives, we not only had to get to know four little souls but also navigate the complexities of trauma. We discovered an entirely new world of special needs parenting, from speech therapy to occupational therapy, IEPs, ADHD, and trauma counseling. We also had to give ourselves room to grieve the life we used to have and allow ourselves space to adjust to our new life. We had to help each other work through and process the trauma we are all experiencing in our new mega family (7 kids is crazy!)
One of the many challenges we faced was sensory issues with our children. Anxiety and sensory-seeking behaviors were prevalent among our younger kids. They often resorted to skin-picking or sought sensory input through activities like exercise and sensory play. Loud noises could also trigger their restlessness, and bedtime was particularly tough. We even witnessed them unintentionally damaging their surroundings by scraping paint off the walls or tearing holes in their sheets. Chewing on toys, bouncing on the trampoline and furniture, and playing with playdough became their outlets.
To manage overstimulation, we had to be proactive. We invested in noise-canceling headphones for situations like fireworks, but our kids were primarily sensory seekers. Weighted blankets and sensory toys became our go-to tools, and we incorporated frequent breaks into our daily routine. We also made sure our home was stocked with sensory activities like playdough, sand, water play, and various outdoor equipment. However, during the winter months, finding suitable indoor sensory activities proved to be a bit more challenging.
This is where Felt Right came into the picture. We were thrilled about the opportunity to use Felt Right products to create a sensory-friendly environment for our children. Each of our kids participated in designing something special for their room, and being a part of the installation process gave them a sense of ownership. We're hopeful that having the felt tiles around their beds will provide a tactile outlet for them, allowing them to scratch and trace the felt instead of their skin or our walls. This exciting addition to our home promises to be a valuable tool in helping our children navigate their sensory challenges while enhancing their living spaces.
Our foster-to-adopt journey has been a rollercoaster ride, filled with love, growth, and learning. While we continue to face unique challenges, we're determined to provide our children with the support and resources they need to thrive. With the addition of Felt Right products, we're taking another step towards creating a safe and nurturing environment that fosters their well-being and helps them overcome their sensory issues. Our story is far from over, and we're excited to see what the future holds for our incredible family.
Story by Crystal Ashton