Stepping into a New World 

Dan Sparling Profile
Article by Dan Sparling
Director of Child Placement

"Foster care opened us up to a world we never knew existed. It made us look at people with more compassion and understanding."

In 2017, Kurt and Staci got licensed to be foster parents and began thinking about what foster care would be like. They already had 3 young kids (2, 4, and 7-years-old). How would this journey affect their kids? What kinds of kids would be placed in their home?

Only a few short months later, in March, they welcomed Brian into their home. He was 16 years old and was in a residential treatment facility before coming to their home. During the transition, Brian spent the night in their home a few times and eventually came to live with them full-time.

Over the first few months, things were going well. Brian was back in his old high school and got along well with Kurt, Staci, and their kids. “Our personalities clicked well, and we enjoyed having him in our home.”

That summer was rough for Brian. He got pulled over for speeding, and his car was searched. In the car were various pills and a baggie of marijuana. Staci then found marijuana in Brian’s room. “At that point, Kurt and I knew he needed more structure.”

They made the difficult decision to ask Brian to be moved from their home, and he was taken away. Brian went to a shelter and then into another foster home. But Kurt and Staci stayed involved, and after 6 weeks and another failed foster home, he was back in their family.

Over the time that Brian was in their home, Staci “saw him develop hope that a better life was possible for him.” She recalled a time in December 2017 when the family was in Ohio celebrating Christmas. Their 2-year-old daughter stopped breathing. “Brian was in the corner praying with our son.” She ended up being okay, and the memory still sticks with their son.

Brian stayed with Kurt and Staci for the rest of high school, and they helped him transition into an apartment. “Brian would read to my kids, act silly, and play with them. It was very fun for our kids, and I believe, healing for him.”

When Brian left, things didn’t go as well as everyone hoped. He struggled to keep a job and didn’t always have a place to live. Over the past 5 years, Kurt and Staci have been there through Brian’s ups and downs. He is now working full-time and is doing great for himself, but the road has not been easy.

“Foster care opened us up to a world we never knew existed. It made us look at people with more compassion and understanding. Also, there are so many people who are all alone in this world and do not have the support network we have been so blessed with.”

Being a foster parent is hard, but seeing kids find the hope we all share is worth it!

Dan is currently the Director of Child Placement at Gateway Woods.