This week’s #WomanCrushWednesday goes out to Erica Speck, former nurse and mother of six, ranging in age from 15 to 2.
Erica grew up in Gresham and married her high school sweetheart from Sam Barlow High School. She attended Mount Hood Community College and earned a nursing degree from Linfield College. She and her husband have been foster parents for six and a half years. Erica was a nurse before becoming a foster parent, where she worked with people of all ages – from the elderly to pediatrics. Her nursing background helps her do what she does today. All foster kids have experienced trauma; the kids she fosters have very special needs – fetal alcohol syndrome, autism. And that’s where Erica thrives. She knows the system and it’s gratifying to find disability services and connect folks with other services, to help them meet their needs. Serving people in her community has always been important to her – before becoming a foster parent, she and her family would put together care packages for the homeless. It was gratifying work, but she wanted to make more of an impact in her community. So she and her hubby took classes and jumped into fostering head-first. She loves it because you’re not just helping the foster child – you’re helping the whole family overcome hurdles that many of us can’t even begin to understand. There’s no judgement – she believes the point of fostering is to care for those kiddos until their forever families are locate
d. And it makes her feel really good. She’s clearly setting a great example, too – her own daughter wants to be a foster parent one day! She’ll prepare for that next summer, when she’s old enough to serve as a camp counselor at the camp she has attended and loved for the past four years.
YOU can help kids in foster care, even if you’re not a foster parent. There are so many ways to help – Erica encourages you to contact your localDHS and ask questions. She HATES the sentence, “I could never do that.” Everyone can do something. Some folks think they couldn’t handle the grief when their foster child leaves, but Erica says knowing what you did for that child and their family overpowers the grief. In her experience, there are good times and bad – and the good always outweighs the bad.