Frumpfighter

Children complete foster mom’s life

Posted on: February 5, 2009

When Janet Rorholm received a call from a social worker in April 2006 asking her if she could take in two foster children, she was slightly taken aback.

Janet Rorholm

Janet Rorholm

Two? She was just expecting one; especially on her first stint as a foster parent. But when the social worker said it was best not to separate siblings, Janet agreed. Not quite three years later, Janet has officially adopted the siblings, Thomas and Katie.

Janet, 37, admits as a single woman with a full-time job, it can be tough raising two toddlers. But she says she can’t complain too much, because she “signed up for that.”

The editor of The Gazette’s  business magazine, The Edge, Janet has also worked as an investigative reporter. The stories that always got her the most were the ones about abused or neglected children.

Then, she came to the point in her life when she was ready to help these children and become a foster parent.  As a single woman, she wasn’t sure she qualified, but after some research, she began the process.

“I felt there was a need out there,” she said. “If I were married, I would still want to do this.”

She went through the Iowa Department of Human Service’s adoption and foster parent training at the same time. As the class progressed, the number of participants got smaller and smaller. Trainees drop out for different reasons, Janet says, including relocation, family or employment changes, or the realization that the goal of the foster system is to return children to their families. 

“That’s tough for a lot of people to swallow,” she says. “You want what’s best for the child.”

There is also a chance the children have been exposed to drugs or abuse prior to their placement in foster care.

“It’s not an easy journey,” Janet says. “On one hand these kids are resilient and on the other hand they may have been scarred.”

Thomas and Katie enjoy the pumpkin patch.

Thomas and Katie enjoy the pumpkin patch.

Janet recalls the day 22-month-old Thomas and 11-month-old Katie came into her life – April 13, 2006. It was the day a tornado heavily damaged Iowa City.

“It was a hot, muggy day,” she says. “We just sat down for supper and the tornado alarm went off.”

She and a visiting friend each grabbed a child and headed to the basement of her Cedar Rapids home. As they sat there in the dark with the children on their laps, “that’s when I realized my life had changed,” Janet says.

The children showed little emotion when first placed in Janet’s care. “They were bewildered by everything. They never gave me any trouble because everything was a new experience. They were taking it all in.”

Within three or four months, the social worker told Janet that Thomas and Katie might be available for adoption.

“I remember hyperventilating about it,” she says. “That’s not what I had in mind.”

It instantly changed her mindset from “they’re going home” to they could permanently stay with her.

In the summer of 2007, the children’s birth parents’ rights were terminated. After a year and a half of red tape and bureaucracy, Janet’s adoption of them was finalized last week.

Katie and Thomas enjoy the playground.

Katie and Thomas enjoy the playground.

Janet currently has another foster child living with her and Thomas and Katie. She doesn’t know if she will continue to be a foster parent as her adopted children are getting attached to their “little sister.”

Juggling the demands of a full-time job and raising two children has been a balancing act for Janet. But she has been fortunate to have a lot of support from family, friends and coworkers.

“If you don’t have that, it would be very difficult,” she says.   

Her parents live more than four hours away in Sioux City. She sometimes wishes she had relatives closer to Cedar Rapids to lend a helping hand on a moment’s notice. But when in need, her parents do travel across Iowa to watch the kids.

Since the beginning of 2006, Janet’s life has changed dramatically. Gone are the days when she could work late and take the weekend shifts.

“One thing I miss is silence,” she says.

But the sounds of her children’s laughter make it all worth it.

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4 Responses to "Children complete foster mom’s life"

Good column, Angie. Those 2 kids are such sweeties. I love when they visit the newsroom

Thanks, Courtney. Yes, they are sweeties. And Janet does such a wonderful job with them. I don’t know how she does it! I have complete respect admiration of her.

I’m so glad to hear that Janet finalized the adoptions. I know it’s been a long and sometimes scary road — congrats to Janet and the kids! Here’s to a wonderful family.
Erica

These children have really bloomed in Janet’s care. They have become much more outgoing and open to life, and happier and visibly healthier. Congratulations, Janet. You are a wonderful mom.

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