Forming Our Forever Family & Advocating for Change

Paul Rummel
Wilsonville, OR

When Ben and I first dated, we knew we wanted to build a family. We talked about the many ways we could become dads, but were drawn to foster care initially, as a way to gain experience as parents. We didn't want to become dads without the skills it would take to provide ongoing care for a child. We became therapeutic foster providers, which was a crash course in parenthood. In the 3 years as foster dads, we welcomed 13 kids into our home, each with different stories and each with specific needs.

We became foster parents to Jay, whom we adopted. He was nearly sent back into a system of uncertainty however we had already opened our hearts to him and refused to send him back into foster care. There he would have been shuffled from home to home, again. We fought for two years to become his parents.  He was ecstatic when he found out that he didn't have to leave and that we would be a forever family!

The challenges we experienced could have torn our son from our home.  As his foster dads, we were given the unusual privilege of adoption from foster care. The state agency wanted to remove him from our home while we were going through the adoption process but we fought to keep him and to provide him a real sense of permanency. In the two years it took to become his dads, he had become accustomed to calling us daddy and papa. Our happiest moment was the day that we got to tell him that we were going to be more than his foster dads.

Unfortunately, we were not able to enforce visitation with our son's biological brother. Our state agency allowed the two boys to be adopted separately. His brother's family did not want to have an ongoing relationship. In spite of the effort and promises made during our adoption process. We have founded a non-profit to advocate for families in foster care and to make legislative changes for children in state care. Oregon Foster Families First will provide a means of change for a foster care system in crisis.