Foster Parenting – Not for the Faint of Heart

By Jared Acuna

“Get on their level and meet them where they are at; that is the most important thing,” stated Charmarie Moor. Char works for Greater Oregon Behavioral Health Incorporated, or GOBHI for short. With GOBHI behind her, Char’s entire world centers around foster kids.

Char and her husband Tom have no children of their own, but currently five foster kids have made their way into the Moor household. Char and Tom have gained fame with the state. They’ve become the go-to couple and tend to keep their young charges for the longest amount of time, compared to any other family.

In an era where foster parents are easily overwhelmed and scared off, the Moors have discovered an enduring love for troubled youths. It is a trait that is as refreshing to the community as it is rewarding to Char and Tom. Not your average foster home, the Moors specialize in Therapeutic Care for kids with behavioral needs.

One of their most inspiring impacts was on a previous foster child, now 22. Char considers that girl like a daughter today. “We’ve had her since she was 16. She came into our care for 2 years. She went to the Job Corps and got her CNA, moved out and then came back home on leave to help us. We try to stay connected to as many kids as we can, those that have stayed in our home.”

Over the years, Char estimates that 14 different children have come through her home. Most of them have stayed for two years. That’s an extraordinary time frame for a higher care system that operates on 6 month contracts. Char admitted that she’s not always sure if her open heart will make a difference.

Moor revealed, “We typically get kids right out of Juvenile or Residential, super aggressive behaviors and the anger that other people might not like to deal with. You don’t know how successful you are until later. There was a girl who lived with us for almost 6 months. Sometimes I don’t think I’ve done anything more than house these kids, but this girl thanks me every year on Mother’s Day. She’s getting married next month and we are going to her wedding.”

Surprisingly, Char doesn’t receive a whole lot of kids from Clatsop County. The majority come from St. Helens, Newport or Portland. That is a far radius of displacement. When Char has older youths in her care, she’ll drive them to Warrenton High School, even though her home is in Astoria.

A Warrenton girl herself, Char elaborated on just why the atmosphere at WHS is a better decision. “It’s a smaller high school, more easily manageable for them. These kids have to move from home to home, get a new set of parents and a new set of rules. I would not like to go and live with someone new. To move into someone’s house, how strange would that be? I don’t think that people understand how traumatic it is to them. It’s awful.”

Given the upsetting experience for most youths, Moor shed some light on a big misconception. One might think that these kids are going to be so thankful to those that take them in, but it’s just not that way. It’s important to bear in mind that these children want to be with their families, no matter how bad that might be. They have siblings that got left behind, a mom or a dad too. There’s a lot of love that has been uprooted and left unfinished.

All the Moor family wants is for their kids to feel like part of the family. “I don’t ever want them to feel like a burden or that they don’t belong. It makes a difference to us, lets us know we’re on the right track when one of our kids say; “It feels like this is my family.” That’s how it is supposed to feel.

Despite the many breakthroughs that Tom and Char have accomplished with their foster kids, one challenge keeps returning: basic provisions. The state funding is not offering a lot. A great deal of the coverage is paid out the Moors’ own pockets: tutors, play therapists, appointments in other cities, just to name a few. Even things that might be assumed as essentials aren’t provided by the state.

“When kids move in, they never have the stuff they need. It’s infuriating. Never any pajamas and one pair of shoes each. I’m a shoe person, so they now all have five pairs of shoes, but the provided care always seems to be lacking.”

According to Char, they can get a voucher from DHS only if they are lucky. Often the voucher will be denied because a previous foster parent got one for the child. It’s a frustrating flaw that is leaving a lot of these foster families with no resources.

The Moor household claims to have been trying to get out of foster care for some time, but local needs just keep arising. What keeps them going is their outrage every time they hear of a four year old being sent to a lockdown facility because no homes were available. “It’s like jail. Are you kidding me? Nobody will take him, so I say that we’d love to keep him and that’s how it all starts.”

Char and Tom’s outcry is matched only by their compassion for every child that comes through their door. They are a family that personifies the best that a community can offer by filling needs. While we should always continue to urge our government to be better, communities should be mindful to pair their words with real actions. In an era where everybody is talking and little are doing, the Moor home is a prime example of a community that is reaching out to make things better.

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