Click to View Latest IssueClick to View Latest Issue

Leslie Crosby: A Mother’s Love: The Courage to Commit Fully

By  0 Comments

May is National Foster Care Month, dedicated to acknowledging foster parents, family members, mentors and the welfare professionals who play a role in enhancing the lives of children in foster care. Choosing to become a foster parent can help children who need a home find stability; it can build lasting connections that broaden the scope of what constitutes love, motherhood and family.

Leslie Crosby and her husband, Kevin, had a plan. She would stay home with their two children until they reached school age and then she would make her way back to teaching pre-school. But a four-month-old baby boy named Nikko armed with a big purple pacifier changed everything.

In 2004, shortly after their daughter Molly was born, Kevin took a new position with a local fire department. The couple realized that she didn’t necessarily need to go back to work. “We knew that we were okay financially and with Kevin’s new work schedule it just made sense for me stay home with the kids,” said Leslie. A visit with a good friend who had recently adopted an infant domestically changed Leslie’s path again. “She asked me if I had ever thought about doing foster care. My initial response was no. I had never thought about it.

“The next thing I thought was, ‘I could never do foster care because I would get too attached to the kids,’” revealed Leslie. “After talking with Kevin about doing foster care he immediately didn’t think we could make it work. Our house was too small, our car was too small, we had two kids, a dog and a busy life. But the seed had been planted.” With a deep connection to her faith, Leslie felt that if foster care was something they would pursue as a family, Kevin would need to be the one who made the decision. A few months later, over a lively conversation during a Christmas dinner with family, the subject of foster care became a topic of discussion. “We went home that night and the first thing that Kevin said to me was, ‘Maybe we should go to an orientation before we say no.’”

Along Came Nikko and Nyah
Shortly after being placed on the list as an eligible foster family, Leslie received a call from the social worker. “The only information we had was that his name was Nikko and that he was four months old,” shared Leslie. “He came to us with this giant purple pacifier and he was such a good baby.” Although Nikko’s case plan was set for a two-month period, two months turned into nine months; after a year the county began look for a more permanent option for Nikko. “Each month the social worker would call to check on Nikko and she would ask, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to adopt?’ And every time we said no. We kept saying that we make really great foster parents.”

Over the summer, Kevin was home with a work injury and he spent a lot of time bonding with Nikko. “It was right before permanent placement was set up when the social worker called and asked again if we wanted to adopt Nikko. I called Kevin at work and after a long pause he said, ‘We need to talk.’” Nikko’s adoption was made final in November 2012. The couple’s older children, Austin and Molly, also fell in love with Nikko.

“Austin and Molly are amazing kids. We couldn’t do any of this without them. They are the ones who make the biggest sacrifices and they both take on their roles in the family with such grace as they embrace this life we have chosen,” shared Leslie. As time went on, the couple was told that Nikko had a mild form of cerebral palsy. Today, Nikko is an active seven-year-old who is persistent, funny, sweet and full of joy. “He really taught us so much about what it means to be a parent.”

The couple continued to do foster care, often taking children and infants that come from traumatic situations and children who have special needs. When Nikko was three, the Crosbys felt another calling to adopt. “I woke up one morning and he wasn’t in his bed. Frantically, I searched the house looking for him, eventually peeking in on the big kids’ room. There he was, curled up with Austin. As I stood there with my heart racing I felt God clearly whisper: Molly needs a sister like Austin has a brother. In May 2016, the Crosbys adopted their second daughter. “Nyah is a whirlwind of sass and joy! All in a good way, of course,” laughed Leslie. “She is tenderhearted, intuitive and in touch with her emotions. She seems to always be in tune with what’s going on in the family. She really is our heartbeat.”

Misconceptions About Foster Care
Ironically, a statement Leslie dislikes hearing the most is “I could never be a foster parent because I would get too attached to the kids.” After becoming a foster parent, Leslie realized it’s supposed to feel that way. “You’re supposed to get attached to the kids. You are absolutely supposed to get attached to the kids and fall in love with them. And it’s supposed to hurt when you say goodbye because it means you are loving them with everything you have and that’s what the kids need.”

One of the biggest misconceptions about being a foster parent is that it takes a special person to do it. “I’m not amazing. I’m just like everyone else. The only difference is, I chose to say yes.” Asking for help has been one of the hardest things Leslie has had to overcome. “The people who drop everything to help us are just as much a part of this as we are. Our family and friends have embraced everything with enthusiasm. Our parents, our friends, our church. There is no way we could continue to do this without their support.”

Challenges of Foster Care and Adoption
Often with very little notice, Leslie will get a call about an infant who needs emergency care. “It can be hard to make it all work and it’s hard when they leave,” she shared. Learning to parent children from traumatic backgrounds is also challenging. “At first, we assumed that you can parent all of your children the same way. But what we realized is that each child has different needs, especially when they have experienced trauma or adversities in their first home.”

Helping people understand how and why to use respectful adoption language is also difficult at times. “It can be difficult when people ask me questions about our kids. People often don’t realize how to approach the subject of adoption, sometimes asking which one of my kids are ‘real’ and which ones are adopted.” But to Leslie they are just that, her kids.

To learn more about how to become a foster parent, please call 209-465-KIDS.