Why did you start accepting foster kids and seeking out foster kids?
Carol: I always wanted to be a foster parent, even before I had a kid of my own. I always loved to be around kids and I always thought of myself as a mom … I know there’s a need, and not everybody can do it. I was interested and willing. I was good at it.
Did you expect you’d be helping solve the problems of your adopted kids as adults?
Carol: I didn’t expect the way it turned out, that they’re all still living at home. The thought of giving them help into adulthood is real different than supporting them.
When did you realize they’d live in your house as adults and need your financial support?
Carol: Just now. (She laughs).
You thought most, if not all, of the kids would be able to live on their own by now?
Carol: Yeah, I did. Will could move out, because he’s got (Supplemental Security Income). He could make it on his own. Not a nice place, but there are services to enable him to get his needs met. RJ — unless he gets SSI, I’m cautiously optimistic about that — but then he would need somebody to help him. I mentioned that he might consider having me be his guardian. Otherwise he’ll just spend all his fishing money and it’ll be gone. The last couple years I’ve taken it and rationed it out, put aside money to pay his taxes. And I had him pay me some rent money. I thought Simone would be able to get a job. Well, obviously not. Ari has not had a job, but hopefully this (baby) has been enough of a change for her. She’s making good progress. She’s working on a step with her sponsor today.
What about Kellen?
Carol: She doesn’t make enough to support herself.
What are your biggest concerns about the future?
Carol: I hope nothing happens to me. I don’t think anything’s going to happen. I don’t spend time worrying about that. Maybe I don’t think about big-picture things. I’m just trying to get through the next day or two.
Is what you have going now sustainable?
Carol: No. I’ve been living on savings. I might be able to collect Social Security, but I haven’t paid into Social Security for many, many years. So that’s not going to help that much. With what it takes to run this house for a month, with what I’ve got in the bank, at a certain point I’m not going to be able to afford to live here. Besides Will, nobody has any place to go. I’m kind of in denial about that, I guess. I’m expecting Leah to be self-supporting.
What difference have you made in the lives of your kids?
Carol: Well, it’s probably pretty amazing that I’m saying it, but they’ve had all of the advantages I could’ve given them. And I’m not talking about material stuff. I’m talking about support, understanding. I’m pretty knowledgeable about their needs and helping them address their needs. Or making available resources to meet their needs. Whether they take advantage of it, I can’t force that. Every time I see a kid on the street, that could be them. And the stories you read in the newspaper, that could be them. A lot of awful things could’ve happened. Within reason, we’ve avoided a lot of awful things. Awful things have happened, but in the best possible way. (She laughs). We’ve done what we could, and what needed to be done. I don’t have many regrets. I’m pretty confident and self-aware of my choices, and I probably would make all the same decisions. For me, and maybe other adoptive parents, you adopt children and hope to prevent another generation from making the same mistakes their parents did. I think I was able to help my kids not make the mistakes their parents did.
Originally published May 3, 2014 by Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage Daily News