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Family Sees Foster Parenting as “Great Gift”

Boys Town Foster Parents Paul and Michelle see their home as a diverse place where everyone’s kids belong: his, hers, theirs and someone else’s.

“We’re truly a blended family,” Michelle says of her son Nicholas, 16, Paul’s daughter Marisa, 14, their son Paul, Jr., 6, and at any given time, one or two foster children. Since they became Boys Town Foster Parents in 2005, they have had seven placements, all boys, and have also taken in several other children for short-term placements. Some come for several months, others more than a year, but they are always a welcome part of the family.

The couple agrees that fostering parenting has been a great gift to give to their children.

“It’s a wonderful experience that money can’t buy,” Michelle said. “It gives them a different outlook on things.”

As foster parents, they have been pleased with the level of support Boys Town provides. Whenever they’ve felt they couldn’t meet the needs of a certain child, Boys Town consultants and coordinators have provided guidance.

“It matters to them that the placement is right,” Paul said.

The couple firmly believes in the Boys Town Model ® and its focus on positive reinforcement. They enjoy helping their foster children grow and make positive changes in their lives; they hope those children will feel good inside about their accomplishments and take that with them throughout life.

Michelle and Paul nurture their foster children as their own, but are always respectful of a child’s own parents. Michelle said she believes that while parents make mistakes and have flaws, most innately love their children and want the best for them.

Foster parenting is not for everyone, the couple says. Having foster children naturally brings new responsibilities and can be challenging, but for the Higgins family, the rewards are clearly worth it.

“If you have the room in your heart, it’s a great experience,” Michelle said, “It’s wonderful to see the changes you can make in a child’s life.