Trouble saying no led to 20 years of foster care for Basin Electric employee

Rhonda-and-Bryan-Chapman

Rhonda and Bryan Chapman

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan declared May National Foster Care Month, and it continues to be recognized and celebrated today. For Rhonda Chapman, Basin Electric account analyst II at Dry Fork Station, Foster Care Month hits close to home, as she and her husband, Bryan, have been foster parents for 20 years.

Chapman says they initially got into foster care when her mother-in-law and father-in-law were fostering children. “Back then, the rules stated that if one of their foster children wanted to spend time with our family, my husband and I needed to be licensed, so we did what we needed to get licensed,” she says.

Not long after that, they began receiving calls for placements. “We had a hard time saying no, and here we are 20 years later,” she says. While she says it’s hard to say how many children they have fostered over the years, she estimates is it somewhere between 40 and 50.

The Chapmans have two grown biological children as well as two grown former foster children that they adopted. “They have all been a huge help caring for these kiddos,” she says. “With my husband and I both working full time, they have helped us by driving the kids to activity practices, helping them with their homework, and many other things. I am so thankful to have the support of all my family.”

kids,-Justin,-Courtney,-Melisa

The Chapman kids: biological children Justin and Courtney, and Melisa, an adopted former foster child.

In addition to the support of her family, Chapman says Basin Electric has been extremely supportive of her role as a foster parent. “With the many doctor appointments, court hearings, counseling sessions, and activities we need to attend, I wouldn’t be able to do this if I didn’t have the support of my employer, and I have never felt anything but support from Basin Electric,” she says.

Just as Basin Electric supports her role as a foster parent, Chapman says it is her job to be supportive of her foster children’s biological parents. “Being a foster parent means giving our time and resources to help families through a difficult time. After so many years, we’ve realized that we don’t just do it for the children, but for their parents, too,” she says. “They need to know you support them – that you are not there to keep their children, rather you are there to keep them safe and love them until the family situation is corrected and it’s time to go back to a home that’s better than the one they left behind.”

Chapman’s biggest piece of advice for anybody thinking about becoming a foster parent is to have patience. “You have to understand that when you get a child in your home, you are there to care for the child. You fall in love, but ultimately these children already have parents, and even though they have made mistakes, they love their children – they just need help getting their lives back on track,” she says. “Once they get the help they need, the court system may allow the children to go back home, and you have to trust that that’s the right decision. It’s the loving environment that makes it a home, and hopefully they can become a success story. Once it’s all said and done, you have to believe you have had an impact on these children and they will have a better future because of it.”

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