An interview with foster parent LaVeda Chapell
LaVeda Chapell is a foster parent with SAFY of Nevada. One thing that makes her extraordinary is her desire to care for one of our most difficult to place populations — teen girls. She has had tremendous success over her 10 years of parenting in the foster care system, and even has a former foster youth preparing to graduate from Columbia University!
When asked why she cares for teen girls, Ms. LeVeda replied, “These precious angels have always been undervalued. Yes, they can be emotional, unpredictable and calculating; and yes, they have hormonal driven actions that sometimes lead to poor decision making, but they have so much potential when given guidance and loving care.”
Where one person might see difficulty, Ms. LaVeda sees light. “Let me take a moment to share with you from my eyes to your heart,” she says. “When the teen girls are in the kitchen together, the laughter, snorts, silliness and crazy antics are music to my soul. I was always raised to believe that humor is a healing tool for the soul.”
Along with seeing the sweetness of these young women, Ms. LaVeda has found that her patience, dedication and willingness to listen are a great fit for fostering teen girls. “They will test you often, but make no mistake they are only testing your love, they are testing to see if you are in it for the long haul or just another temporary stand-in. I never let that hard talk of ‘glad when I age out’ fool me. These girls are so scared of what’s to come next that they keep that fake demeanor going,” she said.
Ms. LaVeda acknowledges some behaviors can be challenging, especially when you are in the moment, but once the teens learn that you will remain by their side, and that you have their best interests at heart and love them, they are fiercely loyal. They seek you out, want to spend time with you (maybe just short periods of time!) and they crave parental protection they were denied in their younger years.
“I’ve never been fearful of developing teen girls,” LaVeda remarked. “They carry hurt from traumatic experiences and need our help to heal and let it go.”
Thank you to Ms. LaVeda for sharing her experiences and wisdom, and for her continued commitment to the children we serve.