From Mentoring to Parenting
As Lisa listened to a chorus performing in the auditorium of East Providence High School, she couldn't help looking around and wondering, "How did I get here?"
The information technology manager's intention 3 years ago was to mentor a young woman through regular, meaningful interactions. But bimonthly trips to museums, the movies, or the mall led to school concerts, doctors' appointments, and even some "nagging" over unfinished homework.
Before she knew it, Lisa went from mentor to foster parent. And 18-year-old Nicole couldn't be happier.
"When I was in elementary school I was in the chorus. No one showed up to see me sing," explained Nicole, who entered foster care at age 13. "Knowing that Lisa is in the audience to see me—and only me—feels great."
Nicole's life changed dramatically the day she met Lisa through Rhode Island Foster Parents Association's Real Connections program, which pairs caring adult mentors with youth in transition. Their personalities and interests—including a love for music—led to a strong friendship. Within 2 years, Nicole came to live with Lisa.
Her foster parent's positive and consistent influence helped Nicole accomplish shared goals: finishing high school, getting accepted into college, and becoming more independent, among other things.
Nicole said her relationship with Lisa also helped her become more confident and open with others. "Knowing Lisa is there for me makes me want to find more people who will be there. And I want to be there for them."
Lisa credits Real Connections with providing the training and peer support that helped her relationship with Nicole succeed. "It can be a challenge at times. But you realize that the best chance these kids have is having a consistent adult in their lives," she said.
- Learn more about the Rhode Island Foster Parents Association's Real Connections Program.
- Read or view more Real-Life Stories.