Foster Parent Q & A: Cyndy Strickland

Interview by Elizabeth Hollida, Recruitment Specialist: Digital Media 

Meet Cyndy Strickland, Heartland for Children foster parent.  Below is a brief Q & A session with Cyndy about how she decided to become a foster parent and what she's learned in the process.  

Thank you for your commitment and decication as a foster parent, Cyndy, and for sharing your story with us!

When did you start fostering?

My husband Mark and I started fostering in September of 2011.

What made you want to be a foster parent, and how did you get started?

Our journey first began long before September 2011; it began about 16 years ago with kinship care. We were contacted by the department and asked if we would consider taking in our nephews who were going to be removed from their home. My husband and I said yes. About two years later, there was a TPR hearing and the boys came up for adoption. Again, my husband and I said yes and adopted. After having previously being involved with the system through kinship care and adoption...and having two empty bedrooms (can’t have that!), we decided to take the leap and attend foster parent classes.

We will soon celebrate our three-year anniversary as foster parents!

What “type” of foster parenting do you do/specialize in? (Therapeutic, sibling groups, etc.)

We are a therapeutic foster home. Therapeutic children have often had multiple failed placements.

How many children/teens have you fostered?

We have fostered two children, but have done respite care for about a dozen more. We have been blessed to have two siblings and one is a teen girl (yikes!!!).

When you become a foster parent, you tell your agency what gender and ages you prefer to accept into your home. I originally said no girls and no teens (heard bad things about them). I know about boys since we have six sons. Yes, I said six. I soon realized that it’s not about fitting children into a cookie-cutter mold of what you want, but being open to what is needed. My girl is a joy, I am so thankful that I said yes to a teen girl.

What do you like most about being a foster parent?

The little things that no amount of money can buy; like the smile on the kiddos’ faces when they come home from school and you ask, “How was your day?” I love when you get hugs from the heart or that big cheesy grin on their faces when you attend a school performance and the kiddo notices you are there, just for them. We also take our kids on vacation because I love giving the kids new experiences.

What has been the biggest surprise?

People say, “Oh, it is so wonderful of you to take foster kids into your home!” but what most people don’t understand is that it is we who are blessed. I also never realized I would be able mentor a family as I co-parented with the biological parents.

What advice would you give to people considering becoming foster parents?

Talk to your family, your husband/wife, kids. This decision will impact everyone’s lives and they will be supportive if they are part of the discussion/decision. Also, don’t expect your foster kids to be grateful. They have been torn from all they love. In time, gratitude may come. I’m just saying you may not see the positive payoff for years to come, or ever. Do this for the kids—the kids who need you.

You can change a life for the better. You can find your purpose.

Why should someone become a foster parent, in your opinion?

To pay it forward.

Being a parent is the most rewarding experience I have ever had. Nothing beats making a positive difference in a child’s life.

Next Steps

Are you interested in becoming a foster parent in Polk, Hardee or Highlands County?  Call (863) 519-8900 x 289 or email to get started.