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‘She just kind of gave me this smile:’ Local mom reflects on fostering a teen … and 24 others

Posted at 7:30 PM, May 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-19 20:44:11-04

WYOMING, Mich. — The moment Stacey Goodson met Mimi back in 2016, she thought to herself ‘Oh great, I’m keeping another one.'

They had similar personalities and just clicked.

Goodson laughs when she thinks about it now.

“She just kind of gave me this smile and it just kind of like hooked me in,” Goodson said during a Zoom interview on Thursday.  “It just kind of like hooked me.”

She said Mimi, who was 12 years old at the time, was only supposed to stay one night at her home as her foster family was out of town due to an emergency. However, that family wasn’t into long-term foster care but Goodman was. So, she took her in.

“She was in another foster home before coming here, so like in between [homes],” Goodson said. “So, of course it gave her a little bit of mistrust of adults. It’s like ‘Why do these people keep having me move.' So, that definitely created some struggles at first of getting her to try to trust us and trust that she wasn’t going to have to go anywhere."

But overtime, Mimi began trusting Goodson. A few years later, Goodson adopted her.

Sunday at 4 p.m., both Mimi and Goodson will share their journey at an event at Wyoming High School, sponsored by Foster Kent Kids.

Goodson's excited to speak on the topic considering she’s fostered 25 kids since 2012.

“My kids have the biggest hearts and they just want to have someone to care about them and be successful,” Goodman said. “They just want the opportunities to be successful. And, sometimes they need people in their corners to put those opportunities in their path.”

Goodson said she got into fostering when she began working in child welfare in 2009. She remembers the first day on the job calling around to different homes asking families to take in teenagers and many said ‘no.’

Goodson was appalled, she said. However it propelled her to begin fostering teens, and eventually adopting four of them.

“They help clean. They help cook,” Goodson said about the advantage of adopting teens over children. “But I really just love the ability to help them break the cycle and change the direction of their lives, as well as the lives of their kids and their families in the future. Just really teaching them how to love and be loved.”

Goodson said being in a home makes all the difference.

She said less than five percent of teens are adopted once they turn 14.

Additionally if they never get fostered or adopted, the likelihood of them experiencing homelessness, criminal activity, unemployment, and teen pregnancy goes up significantly, she said.

According to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, 13,000 kids are in the foster care system in the state. Three hundred are in need of adoptive families.

“My message for people considering teenagers is definitely just: they’re just kids too,” Goodson said. “Like they’re just big kids. It’s so much fun though. They teach me all about myself. They teach me about the world. They teach me how to use my phone to all of its max capacities.”

Goodson said another foster parent will be speaking as well as the event, including the principal of Wyoming High School who she said has been great with her kids when they were students there.

She hopes whomever attends on Sunday is inspired to foster teens just as she did.

“Many times they come back,” Goodson said with a big smile. “I have a couple of older ones now who have had babies of their own and I get to babysit. That’s the best part, really.”