Finding a home difficult for teens, sibling groups
"We take in teenage girls because we got a couple of them and we were very successful in helping them transition into adulthood," Angie said. "Once you become known for being good at something, then they want you to stay in that area."
There are few foster homes willing to take teenagers and sibling groups. Out of Wapello County's 26 foster families, only five are willing to accept teenagers. And last year alone, 40 teens were referred into foster care in the county.
"I think teens scare a lot of people, especially if they haven't experienced that age in parenting," said Vivian Willemsen, Iowa KidsNet licensing and recruitment specialist. "Our kids have gone through a lot of trauma, so there's that sense of abandonment they feel; they have very low self-confidence. People find that a lot more challenging in teens. I'm not saying all of our teens are challenging; we have some that are like any other typical teen. But just because people don't have experience with teens, they can be put off by that."
The Hamms also take in sibling groups after witnessing brothers and sisters being wrenched apart.
"When the children are put in foster care, they're already taken away from their biological family," Angie said. "It's nice if they can stay with one or two siblings, because that gives them familiarity and comfort."
A lack of foster families willing to take in these two groups is a statewide phenomenon, Willemsen said.
"Another big part of that is to make sure they're in the same school," Willemsen said. "If there are no homes in Ottumwa, they have to go to Des Moines or Dubuque. They have to change schools, change everything."