When it comes to helping kids in need, the Connely's are in a league of their own. In addition to raising their own three children, who are now grown, the Connely's have fostered more than 30 children. They will be celebrating a very special day on August 17th when they officially add several more to their clan. The Connely's are adopting a family set of five kids in addition to the family set of three whom they adopted in 2016. We sat down with the Connely's to talk about their journey through foster care and the adoption process.
What has been the most rewarding part of your experience?
Rhia: That's a hard one because there have been lots of rewarding parts. I think watching the kids grow and catch up has been the most rewarding part. This child shows up at your door with no self-esteem, behind in school and delayed in multiple areas, and as a foster parent, you pour your heart into this child or children. All of a sudden, they gain self-confidence and start to catch up in school and in the other areas they were behind in, and you can see the happiness and joy and confidence start to radiate from that child. That is priceless.
How has your experience been with Boys Town's Foster Family Services?
Rhia: We love Boys Town! We have been with Boys Town from the start. And in the six and a half years that we have been doing this, we have only had two Consultants. Both Consultants have been a huge asset to us during this journey. They have been professional, yet very personable, and made it easy to connect with them. We have been thrilled with our choice to use Boys Town and expect to continue a long relationship with them!
What would you say to others who are considering foster care?
Rhia: It may seem scary or daunting at first, but it is so worth it! Don't hesitate, just jump in! It isn't always easy and it isn't always hard, but even on the tough days, being able to be there for the kids who don't have a choice to be there makes it that much more rewarding.
Was it always your intention to one day adopt?
Rhia: I knew from the time I was in high school I wanted to be a foster parent, but I had honestly never thought about adopting. It wasn't until my husband and I started the foster care classes and learned we could potentially adopt through foster care that we chose this path.
Did you have any hesitancies going in?
Rhia: Yes. As we were going through the classes, I felt like the expectation was we had to be perfect parents, and we are far from perfect so I considered quitting. Instead, I decided to stick it out and at least try it. I'm so glad I did! We have been able to help over 30 foster children and give ten a permanent home!
What is something you want others to know about the children in the foster care system?
Rhia: They are regular kids needing some extra guidance and support. We have fostered ages 0-18 and have found that just by showing sincere interest in the children and making them a part of your family for the time they are in your home, you can make a difference. I tell every child that stays with us that whether they are with us for one day, one year or forever, they are an important part of our family and will always have a piece of my heart. Oh, and fostering teenagers isn't as scary as you think!
You are now a mother of thirteen! How do you have time for this?
Rhia: We are really, really organized! I also have good time-management skills, which makes a huge difference. Honestly, people probably wonder how the kids get the needed attention with so many. It is easy; it's all about the little moments. Letting one sit on your lap for a bit or giving a hug and kiss in passing just because or doing a special tuck-in at bedtime. My husband and I always show up for the big stuff, but I think making time for all the little moments is how we are able to connect with each child. People would probably say we are crazy, but we would love to continue adding to our family through foster care!
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent and would like to find out more, please visit our foster care section.