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Posted: September 25, 2011 12:30 a.m.

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News from "Around the Well" in Social Circle

“The days, weeks, and months go by, we’ve learned by now not to cry.

My foster parents give me lots of understanding, love, and hugs too,

I now know it’s up to my birth parents - they know what they need to do.

Because I now know it’s not my fault I was placed with you.”        

~ From “A Child With Foster Parents” by Vicki Philips                                                          


It all began around 10 years ago with little paper Angels hanging on a Christmas tree at the Social Circle United Methodist Church. The name listed on each Angel was a foster child to be remembered with gifts for Christmas. Kathy and Steve Trantham very readily plucked an Angel from the tree, and then it happened. That evening Steve asked Kathy if she had ever entertained the idea of fostering a child. She was amazed that he had asked that question — because she had been thinking that very thing. They decided then to add a new dimension to their lives, a dimension which has required a great deal of commitment, love and fulfillment. As of today, Kathy and Steve have fostered about 20 children and they are still very much engaged.

Steve currently teaches math at the Social Circle High school. He and Kathy moved to Social Circle in 2002 from St. Marys, Ga when he retired from the Navy and began a civilian career as Continuous Improvement Manager at ALCOA in Madison. Kathy is now a stay-at-home mom. She formerly worked as a Department of Defense Accounting Technician and raised their two sons and saw them off to school and work. She’s is a regular member of the Quilting Belles at the Methodist Church and also serves as Treasurer of the Social Circle Lions Club.

I learned from Kathy that in preparation for foster parent certification they were required to attended classes which met once a week for 10 weeks. Extensive interviews were conducted with them, other members of their family and friends. Kathy described their now grown sons, ages 31 and 33, as being “just like us” when reaching out to children in need. Their oldest son, Jesse, is a sergeant in the Marine Corps currently deployed in Afghanistan who laughingly remarked to Kathy, “Mom, you mean you and Dad didn’t have enough trouble dealing with us? Now you’re asking for MORE?”

According to Kathy, there are two types of foster parents. Some people do it for adoption purposes, and some do it as partnership parents. The Tranhams fall into this latter category. They work with their foster children and their parents whenever possible in paving the way to help families get back together. Children remain with their foster families as long as needed to establish permanency in their lives — either through reunification with their families, through adoption if parental rights had been terminated by the courts, or when a child reaches 18 years of age.

The Tranthams made mutual decision not to pursue adoption, but to continue in the foster parenting program as long as they are able to help children heal and ease their transition into a hopefully more healthy and stable family situation. Most children who come to them are hurting — having been emotionally, physically and even sexually abused. Interestingly, most are anxious to be reunited with their mothers — but not necessarily with the situation or environment which caused them to be separated.

Under Georgia’s CASA program (Georgia Court Appointed Special Advocates, Inc.), each foster child is assigned a trained CASA volunteer appointed by a judge to speak up for their best interests. A DFCS case worker visits with each child in Kathy and Steve’s home once or twice a month. Visiting in a familiar, home environment rather than an impersonal office provides a better environment for discussions and building trust between the case workers and their young “clients.” The case workers can become trusted friends who help them feel more comfortable in sharing their feelings and concerns. Foster parents do not participate in these sessions but may receive valuable feed back that will assist them in working with the children. Some children need more intense professional therapeutic involvement outside of the home.

Kathy has sworn up and down that she doesn’t get emotionally involved with the children they foster. Steve strongly disputes this. He told her, “You get emotionally involved the minute a child walks through our door!”  I suspect Steve is about as bad, if not worse. I asked about how they feel when a child leaves. Kathy said, “It’s hard to say goodbye, particularly when you don’t know what the next chapter in their lives will be. When a child leaves us, we have to take a break to go through the grieving process before we accept another.”  At any rate, they keep in touch with almost all the children who’ve been with them. In fact, this past Christmas they had a surprise rendezvous with one of their “adopted” families who now reside in Florida.

I have seen Steve and Kathy with their children in tow at meetings of the Lions Club, or other school or community events. It’s a pretty heartwarming experience. The children are considered and treated by everyone as regular Trantham family members. Kathy gives credit to the Methodist Church and the schools as being wonderfully supportive. She philosophizes that, “Whenever a child comes to us, I believe it’s God’s will. Whenever a child leaves us, it’s also God’s will. I believe that this experience and our involvement as foster parents is a calling from God.”    

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