For married couples trying to start a family, they can often look into the future and envision many wonderful moments. Moments such as the first steps of their baby, their first day of school, teaching them to drive a car and watching them grow over the years.
But for some, starting a family may not be as easy as it seems. In fact, it may be done in an entirely different way.
For Emery County residents Bill and Krikit Butcher, their family started through a different manner: the foster care system.
The Butchers, who have been married for over 11 years, soon found out after their marriage that having children themselves would not be a possibility. With few options left available, they began looking into becoming foster care parents six years ago.
“I was really scared about the whole thing,” Krikit said. “You don’t have nine months to prepare for this.”
The process to become certified by the Utah Division of Child and Family Services included 12 hours of class time and having to pass a home inspection that insures a safe environment for children.
Their first child was an infant boy that they took care of for eight months. Treating the infant as their own and bringing him into a caring home were the most important things, Krikit said. But it wasn’t without any difficulties.
“I was so nervous and anxious about everything,” Krikit said. “I was calling my mom and asking her for help with everything.”
Learning things such as what may be making the infant cry and when he needed to be fed were quickly picked up by the Butchers. The goals during the care include taking care of the child for as long as needed and helping them to get back with their biological parents, Krikit said. But being around the children creates a special bond that sometimes is hard to break when the child leaves.
“I have bonded with all of the children right off the bat,” Krikit said. “Just being there for them and helping them get back to their families is very important to us.”
Currently the Butchers are taking care of two children, one boy and one girl. They originally were foster care parents to the girl, who is now five-years-old. When the opportunity presented itself, the Butchers chose to adopt her.
The boy, age 2, has been cared for by the Butchers since he was five weeks old. He has cerebral palsy, is legally blind and has seizure disorders which require constant monitoring by the Butchers and by doctors at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City. He takes medication four times a day and is fed by a tube through his stomach. But that doesn’t hold the Butchers back from caring for the boy they affectionately know as their “little guy.”
“We were really scared and overwhelmed but we just took things one day at a time,” Krikit said. “We didn’t know ahead of time what his conditions were. It was a learn as you go type of situation.”
“The children we take care of don’t come with instruction manuals on how to care for them,” Bill said. “It was devastating to hear about his (the boy’s) conditions, but he is just one of the family. He’s just a kid, but he’s been dealt with a tough hand.”
Since the boy requires regular visits to the hospital, the bills add up and can get very expensive from month to month. But the state is helping cover the costs so he can get everything he needs, Krikit said.
“It’s very expensive for the hospital visits and the medication he needs,” Krikit said. “But the state has provided us with excellent help and support during the entire process.”
Taking care of the two children together makes the Butchers feel like a family, especially when they see the two interact with one another everyday.
“There is a special bond that the two children share,” Krikit said. “They are like brother and sister with the bond that they have with each other.”
After taking care of four children since they first became foster care parents, the Butchers say they will probably continue to do so depending on what the future holds. For couples who may not be able to have children, becoming a foster care parent is something they should look into, Krikit said.
“We would definitely recommend it to couples who can’t have children,” she said. “So many children out there need a home and being able to provide them with a supportive home is really important. It’s been a great experience for us.”