The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Forrest Hershberger
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Fathering as a Foster Parent


Forrest Hershberger

Josh Misegadis and his wife Melissa have been foster parents twice. He describes the experience as a lot of work and life-changing, but worth the effort.

Parenthood isn't always a straight line. Sometimes the duties of a parent are applied in unique situations, such as foster parenting.

Fatherhood has its own challenges. Most of them do not come with a study guide or a how-to manual. It life-long learning that forms the next generation, and that is part of what leads some people to become foster parents: the desire to guide the younger generation. The challenge with foster parenting, according to Josh Misegadis, is the limits placed by accepting a temporary relationship and oversight by the foster care system. He said he and his wife Melissa talked about foster parenting for several years, making the decision when they returned to Sidney.

"We really talked about it seriously when we moved back here," he said.

He said most children in the foster care system are not in there by their own decision. Likewise, most adults who choose to be foster parents do so because they want to help children. The Misegadises have had two foster children in their home; one seven years old at the time and the second 16 to 17 years old. The experiences allowed them to see "both ends of the spectrum." It was a learning experience as well.

Changing the home struc

ture from two adults to two adults and a child, regardless of the age, requires adjusting the social design of the home. It requires specific procedures that weren't considered before introducing a child into the environment.

"We learned to be more structured," he said.

At the end of a working day, a husband and wife might bring a sandwich home from downtown, fix a light dinner late at night when hunger finally awakens. Order of the house varies with the busyness in the work world. That all changes when at least for a period of time the house is parents and a child. Meal times are scheduled. House duties might be assigned. Simple things adults take for granted are now under consideration of younger minds and eyes.

"It went well," Misegadis said. "We learned a lot."

As foster parents, they stayed in contact with the family from the beginning. They also worked to make sure the child knew he was safe. Their education as foster parents included how to address picky eaters, and later teen issues, including the issues adults have probably forgotten since being teens. Misegadis says it took taking a different look at things. He compares it to management in the business world, recognizing every employee responds to it differently, even to the same stimulus. He developed the approach of "Let me teach you why you should do this" approach.

Comparing how he grew up to his experiences as a foster parent, some traits were useful, and others needed to change. He describes his stepdad as a "very manly man."

"While that does have positives, it has drawbacks," he said.

He said in their foster parenting experience, the baseline of behavior was unique to each child. He also learned how trauma affects a child emotionally. Each person, each child, has his or her escape mechanisms, moments created for safety and peace of mind. In some cases, surviving trauma results in a child moving in extremes from one period of time to another. The experience taught them that foster parents have to be more fluid to changes than biological parents or step parents. Foster parenting does, in a unique way, offer "on-the-job-training" for parenting, although he does not recommend it as the motivation.

"There's such a need out here in the Panhandle," he said.

He said they were motivated in part by his wife's job as Probation and Foster Care Supervisor for Guardian Light Family Services.

"It is definitely not for everybody," he said. "Overall, it is so rewarding."

He said the reward is the opportunity to teach children to do the right things, make the right choices.

"It is hard, but the benefits are so worth it," he said.


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