Young Couple Reflects on First Year as Foster Parents Thursday, Apr 6, 2017 Page Image Page ContentWhen Kelli and Kevin Bueker, a young married couple, decided to say "Yes" to becoming foster parents a little over a year ago, they had no idea of the transformation they'd witness and the changes they'd experience.The first involved a boy in their care who had suffered from significant healthy issues throughout his young life. When he was placed with the Buekers, he was in the 99th percentile for weight for his age, which affected him socially and physically. He was easily bullied, struggled to make friends, had a hard time paying attention in school and was unable to do basic childhood things, such as riding a bike or playing basketball. "It's been incredible to see him, within one year, lose 40 pounds to become 'like everyone else,' as he puts it," said Kevin. In addition to the weight loss, the boy now has a healthy diet and lifestyle. A year ago, he would refuse to go outside and play, but now he can't wait to do that with his friends. He also used to struggle in class, but now is trending toward the honor roll and is genuinely excited about learning. The Buekers also foster two teenage girls. Kevin and Kelli want to instill in them what healthy adults do and what healthy relationships look like."It is very sad to realize that teenage children have never seen a healthy marriage or parents that go to work each day, or an engaged family that enjoys spending time learning and playing together," said Kevin. "They've never experienced what it means to be loved. Even though so much of what we model has been foreign to them, it's been awesome to see our girls gravitate toward healthier relationships with people, learn how to protect themselves online and expand their goals beyond what they could have ever previously imagined." One of the girls has been accepted to college and will be the first one in her family to attend. Kevin said, "She is no longer content to live life like the people she had previously been surrounded by; she wants to excel beyond what anyone had previously expected from her."Being a foster parent has not come without challenges. Caring for children who have faced tremendous trauma is not an easy task, but it has led the Buekers to become more compassionate and less judgmental. This commitment has really strengthened their marriage by providing the opportunity for them to learn to communicate with each other more effectively and improving their ability to be teammates. Along with strengthening themselves and their marriage, the Buekers also have strengthened their relationship with God. It is hard for them to see hurting children and not be "rife with anger," but they rely on prayer and counsel to address many of their issues. The Boys Town staff also plays a huge role in making fostering easier for this family, providing training and being available 24/7 for support. Things that weren't possible a year ago for the children in the Buekers' care are now a reality. The couple has changed the trajectories of these kids' lives and unleashed their potential. The children have experienced such positive growth and love, and that all stems from two amazing foster parents who answered their call to respond to hurting children. There are many reasons to say "No" to foster parenting. But Kelli and Kevin want everyone to focus on the reasons to say "Yes." Saying "Yes" to fostering is saying "Yes" to personal growth, to a strengthened marriage and to saving a child's life.