Have you ever considered adopting a child or becoming a foster parent for children in need of help? If so, adoption or fostering requires patience, unconditional love and understanding.

The Ramsey County Library hosted a Zoom event March 10 to provide general information on adoption and foster care. A team of panelists included Franklin Middle School teacher Michael Bratsch and Ramsey County Foster Care Supervisor Talli Jordan.

The need for foster parents and adoptive families is great throughout the state of Minnesota: approximately 1,600 children wait for adoption and close to 10,000 kids are in foster care daily.

Jordan said Ramsey County is doing some incredible work with keeping kids with family members. About 85% of foster care children in Ramsey County are placed with relatives, compared to 50% in other counties in Minnesota. In Ramsey County, 69% of children in foster care return to their families.

Jordan said that those who wish to become a foster or adoptive parent would not be doing it alone. The social worker assigned to them will hold their hand throughout the entire process.

One of the first steps to foster care and adoption is to go to the MNADOPT website (MNADOPT.org) or the Children’s Home Society of Minnesota’s website (chlss.org/education-events/foster-care-adoption-education-classes/) to fill out an inquiry form or sign up for two-day free webinar classes in April or May.

During the Zoom event, an audience member asked, “How does being a foster parent help the community?”

Bratsch was more than happy to answer. “It provides stability and sets up the child for success on so many levels, like their mental health, social emotional health, and learning at school. The child begins to feel validated and secure,” he said. 

“One thing I know for sure that I’ve seen in my lifetime, time and time again, is the power of unconditional love. When you stay the course, love will always shine through.”

Both Jordan and Bratsch shared their own personal stories with foster care and adoption.

Talli Jordan’s story

About 20 years ago, there was a teenage girl named Latricia George who Jordan knew had a really good heart. She was a good person who happened to make some poor choices in her young life, Jordan said. Because of this, she was put into the foster care system.

“She had a difficult childhood with her parents using drugs and was taken away or would run away all the time,” Jordan said. “She told her child protection worker that if she lived with me, she wouldn’t run away.”

Jordan and her husband got a call from George’s child protection worker and were told George really wanted to live with them. They decided to foster her for one year.

George became the oldest child in the household, which included Jordan’s daughter and two sons. “She’s such an outgoing person, and she really wanted to make friends. It was hard because she was starting a new school in her senior year.”

But George was persistent. She got a job at Target and worked hard to graduate from high school and became a hair stylist for the girls in the neighborhood.

“She came with us on our family vacation that year and went on her first plane ride. That was really exciting for her. 

“She also got to go on a mission trip for a week to Virginia, and she really loved that.”

The family is still connected to George, who is now a mom. She is still a hard worker.

“She always tells me that she learned so much about parenting from me; but I tell her I feel like I learned a lot from her with her life experiences in general. She still calls me ‘Mama T’ and continues to thank me for fostering her. Even her parents have thanked me,” Jordan said.

“To me, it’s a powerful story. She’s so strong. She’s my hero.”

Michael Bratsch’s story

When Bratsch first meets someone, he says, “Today is the second-best day of my life. The best day was the day I was adopted.”

Margaret and Gordy Bratsch adopted Bratsch when he was about four months old. He knew at a young age that he was adopted but was told he was their son.

“My parents always said I was special. I went through a couple of stages where I pulled posters off my wall and my mom would always explain things to me. She was an explainer, and did it with love,” Bratsch said.

“Even though we had a mother-son relationship, we were best friends. She got Parkinson’s a little over 10 years ago and needed a lot of care, and I was always there for her.”

Bratsch’s mother passed away May 17, 2020 at the age of 83 years old. After her passing, he donated busy boxes for kids in foster care and kids in crisis. This was a project he started with his mother before she died.

Bratsch feels that people who are considering adopting a child should know that it truly does make a difference in a child’s life.

“I feel it’s the biggest blessing you can give someone. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. What I always say is the power of unconditional love covers everything. Parenting in this day and age isn’t easy for anyone, and being adopted is a blessing,” Bratsch said.

“There’s a special bond that develops, and people who go into this should realize that it’s not just about blood. I am thankful every day that I was adopted with the best mom and dad — thanks for picking me.”

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