Family plays big part in tribe’s ICW
Kay and Glen Thompson sit with their adopted son Nelvin, 8, in their home in Gideon, Okla. The couple are foster parents and care for children in the custody of Cherokee Nation’s Indian Child Welfare and Department of Human Services. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Since 2006, Glen and Kay Thompson have been caring for foster children in their Gideon, Okla., home. In 2008, the Thompsons adopted six Cherokee children they had taken in previously as foster children. They later adopted another child. Their seven children now range in age from 8 to 13 years old. COURTESY
BY WILL CHAVEZ
GIDEON, Okla. – Glen and Kay Thompson have been caring for foster children in their northern Cherokee County home for nearly 10 years. The couple accepts foster children in the custody of the Cherokee Nation’s Indian Child Welfare and Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services even though they’ve adopted seven children since 2008.
In 2008, they adopted siblings Hal, Jolene, Joshua, Jonathan, Roshaun and Joaquin, who they had taken in previously as foster children. They also recently adopted Nelvin, 8, who is disabled and requires special care. The seven children range in age from 8 to 13 years old.
“To me, really there’s no more trouble with 10 of them than there is with two of them. The only difference is when you go to the table you’ve got less room with 10 than with two. At the table and the laundry room, that’s where you notice the difference,” Kay, a CN citizen, said.
Through the years, the Thompson house has expanded to add bedrooms for their children and later foster children. Kay and Glen also raised four children of their own and have eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
The Thompsons began taking in foster children in 2006 and have fostered more than 40 children. Kay said she thought of taking in foster children earlier than that and took classes on caring for them, but then changed her mind.
“I was afraid I wouldn’t want to let them go. I thought if they had to go back I’d be a basket case. But then I thought if they can live through rough times, surely I can tough it out,” Kay said. “I just thought every once in a while a kid needs a place to go where it’s safe and they can have fun and get well fed. Everyone of them gets spoiled rotten.”
She said so far it hasn’t been too difficult letting go of her foster children because most of them have gone on to live with relatives who took care of them or went back home to their parents.
“I have contact with almost every one of them. “I’m really very fortunate. I can usually find out what’s going on with any of mine (foster children),” she said.
Some biological mothers of the children the Thompsons have fostered have “friended” Kay on Facebook so they can send her photos of the children and keep her updated on how they are doing.
“They (mothers) tell me they love me, and that means a lot. And they tell me thank you, and I tell them ‘I did what I could while you couldn’t do it,’” she said. “I try not to be judgmental because everybody can blow it and make mistakes.”
Kay said the most enjoyable part of being a foster parent is watching the children grow and learn, and helping the children overcome their shyness and fear of leaving their homes is something she’s proud of.
She said if she were to advise people who are thinking about accepting foster children, she would tell them they need a sense of humor, patience and endurance because some children bring emotional problems.
“Sometimes some of their problems...can make you want to climb up on top of the house and never come down. You have to realize they are really struggling and they are having a problem and it’s hard on them,” she said. “You’re only having to deal with their problem. They’re having to live with it.”
She also cautions people not go into foster care for the money provided for each child’s care. It’s the wrong attitude to have, she said.
“If you do foster care right, there is no money in it. It doesn’t pay good, and that’s no reason to take a kid. You’ve got to want to help them,” she said. “It’s just gratifying to be able to watch them become normal children. That’s the most satisfying part for me, just seeing them be all that can be and be normal kids.”
ᎩᏗᏯᏂ, ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ. – Glen ᎠᎴ Kay Thompson ᏓᏂᏍᏆᏂᎪᏗᏍᎪ ᏗᎨᏥᏯᏅᎡᎸ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎤᏴᏢᎢᏗᏍᏝ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎤᏁᏅᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏎ ᏍᎪᎯ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ. ᎯᎠ ᏏᏓᏁᎸ ᏓᏂᏯᏂᏍᎪ ᏗᎨᏥᏯᏅᎡᎸ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎠᎴ ᏧᏂᏯᏅᏓ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏗᏂᏍᏕᎸᎯᏙᎯ ᎠᎴ ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᎯ Human Services ᎦᏳᎳᏃ ᎦᎵᏉᎦ ᏧᏂᏯᏅᏓ ᏧᎾᏚᎵᏛ ᏚᏂᎧᎭ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏧᏁᎳ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒ ᏂᏚᏂᎧᎰᎢ.
ᎾᎿ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏧᏁᎳ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒ, ᏚᎾᏚᎳᏛ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏂᎦᏓ ᏌᏊ ᏏᏓᏁᎸ ᏂᏓᏳᎾᏓᎴᏅᎢ Hal, Jolene, Joshua, Jonathan, Roshaun ᎠᎴ Joaquin ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏚᏂᏯᏅᎮ ᏗᎨᏥᏯᏅᎡᎸᎢ ᎨᏎᎢ. ᎾᏞᎬ ᎤᏂᏯᏅᎲᎢ Nelvin 8, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᏲᎤᏟ ᎠᎴ ᎢᏯᏛᏁᏗ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ. ᎦᎵᏉᎦ ᏯᏂ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏧᎾᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎾᎿ ᏧᏁᎳ ᎠᎴ ᏦᎦᏚ ᎢᏍᏗ ᎢᏧᎾᏕᏘᏴᏓ.
“ᎠᏯᏃ ᎨᏒ, Ꮭ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎤᎪᏓ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᏱᎩ ᎾᎿ ᏍᎪᎯ ᏯᏂ ᎾᏃ ᎠᏂᏔᎵ. ᎢᎦ ᏚᏓᎴᎾ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎦᏍᎩᎸ ᎦᏲᏟᎨ ᎤᏜᏅᏙ ᎾᎿ ᏍᎪᎯ ᏯᏂᎢ ᎾᏃ ᎠᏂᏔᎵ. ᎾᎿ ᎠᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗ ᎦᏍᎩᎸ ᎠᎴ ᎾᎿ ᏗᎬᎩᎶᏍᏗ ᎧᏅᏑᎸ, ᎾᎿᏃ ᎠᏕᎶᎰᎯᏍᏗ ᎨᏐ ᏚᏓᎴᎾᎥᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏅ Kay, ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎨᎳ, ᎤᏛᏅ.
ᏓᏕᏘᏴᎯᏌ, ᎾᏍᎩ Thompson ᎤᎾᏓᏁᎸ ᎠᏛᏍᎬ ᏓᏂᏅᏑᎵᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎤᏂᏴᏍᏗ ᎣᏂᏃ ᏗᎨᏥᏯᏅᎡᎸ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏓᏂᏍᏆᏂᎪᏗᏍᎬ. Kay ᎠᎴ Glen ᎾᏍᎩᏊ ᏅᎩ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏚᎾᏛᎯᏍᏔᏅ ᎤᏅᏌ ᏚᏂᎧᎲᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏃᏊ ᏧᏁᎳ ᏧᏂᎵᏌ ᎠᎴ ᏧᏁᎳ ᎢᏯᏂ ᏔᎵᏁ ᏧᏂᎵᏌ.
ᎾᎿᏃ Thompson ᎤᎾᎴᏅᎲ ᏓᏂᏯᏂᏍᎬ ᏗᎨᏥᏯᏅᎡᎸ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏔᎵ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏑᏓᎵ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒ ᎠᎴ ᏚᏂᏍᏆᏂᎪᏔᏂ ᏅᎩᏍᎪ ᏯᏂᎢ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ. Kay ᎤᏛᏅ ᎤᏓᏅᏖᎸ ᏧᏯᏅᏗ ᏗᎨᏥᏯᏅᎡᎸ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎢᎬᏱ ᎾᏃᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏚᏕᎶᏆᎥ ᏯᏛᏗ ᏗᎦᏎᏍᏙᏗ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᎤᏁᏟᏴᏒ ᎤᏓᏅᏛᎢ.
“ᏧᏍᎦᎢᎲ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏂᎩᏍᏗ ᏱᏄᎵᏍᏔᏂ ᏱᏓᎩᎨᏳᎲᎦ ᎨᎵᏍᎬᎢ. ᎦᏓᏅᏖᏍᎬ ᎢᏳᏃ ᏱᏗᎦᏥᏲᏏ ᏃᏒᎾ ᏱᎦᏓᏅᏓᏗ ᎨᎵᏍᎬᎢ. ᎠᏎᏃ ᎠᏆᏓᏅᏖᎸ ᎢᏳᏃ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᎦ ᏳᎾᎵᏍᏓᏁᎸᎲᏍᎦ, ᏙᎯᏳᏃ ᎠᏯ ᎾᏍᏊ ᎤᏠᏯ ᏱᏂᎦᏛᎦ ᎠᏇᎵᏒ,” ᎤᏛᏅ Kay. “ᎠᏆᏓᏅᏖᎸ ᎢᏴᏓᎭ ᎠᏲᏟ ᎤᏚᎵᏍᎪ ᎢᎸᏢ ᎤᏪᏓᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᎴ ᏙᎯᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏬᎸᏗ ᎤᏪᏓᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎵᏍᏓᏴᏗᎢ. ᏂᎦᏓ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᏲᎪᎢ.”
ᎤᏛᏅ ᏃᏊ ᎨᏒ Ꮭ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏱᎾᏍᏓᏯ ᏗᏲᎯᏍᏗ ᏗᎨᏥᏯᏅᎡᎸ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᏂᎦᏓᏊ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎠᎾᏂᎩᏍᎪ ᏓᎾᏝᏫᏍᏓᏁᎦ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᏧᏅᏂ ᏗᏂᏍᏆᏂᎪᏗᏍᎪ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏁᎪ ᏧᏂᎦᏴᎵᎨᏍᏗᎢ.
“ᏂᎦᏓᏊ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎦᏥᎵᏃᎮᏗᏍᎪ. “ᎢᎦ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᎩᏱᎸᏐ. ᎡᎵᏊᏃ ᎢᎦᏕᎶᏍᎪ ᏅᎾᏛᎾᏕᎬ ᏂᎦᏓᏊ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ “ᎦᏥᏍᏆᏂᎪᏔᏅ” ᏗᏂᏲᏟ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ.
ᎢᎦᏓ ᏧᎾᏓᏥ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎠᏂThompson ᏧᏂᏍᏆᏂᎪᏔᏅ “ᏧᎾᎵ “ ᏄᎵᏍᏔᏅ ᎾᎿ ᎤᎧᏛᎪᏪᎵ ᎾᎿ ᏗᏓCᎶᏍᏔᏅ ᏓᎾᏓᏁᎰᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᏃᎯᏎᎰ Kay ᏄᎾᏛᎾᏕᎬ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏧᏍᏆᏂᎪᏔᏅᎢ.
“ᎾᏍᎩᏃ(ᏧᎾᏓᏥ) ᎬᎩᏃᎯᏎᎰ ᎬᎩᎨᏳᏒᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᎤᎪᏓ ᎠᎩᏃᎯᏎᎰ ᎯᎠ. ᎠᎴ ᎠᎾᎵᎮᎵᎪ, ᎠᎴ ᎦᏥᏃᎯᏎᎰ ‘ᎾᏆᏛᏁᎸ ᎢᏋᏛᏁᎸ ᎢᎬᏆᏛᏗ ᎨᏒᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏅ. “ᎦᏁᎸᏗᏍᎪ ᏗᏊᎪᏙᏗ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᏍᏊ ᎨᎶ ᏳᎵᏍᏓᏁᎸᎲᎦ ᎠᎴ ᏯᏍᎦᏅᎦ.”
Kay ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᏭᎵᎮᎵᏍᏛ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏗᏍᏆᏂᎪᏙᏗ ᏗᎦᏎᏍᏙᏗ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏓᎾᏛᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬ, ᎠᎴᏗᏍᏊ ᏛᏍᏕᎵᏍᎬ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎠᎾᏕᎰᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᏍᎦᎲ ᎤᎾᏂᎩᏍᏗ ᏚᏁᏅᏒ ᎾᎿ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎤᏂᏱᎸᏒᎢ.
ᎢᏳᏃ ᎪᎰᏍᏗ ᏧᏃᎯᏎᏍᏗ ᏱᎩ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏯᎾᏓᏅᏖ ᏧᏂᏯᏅᏗ ᏗᎨᏥᏯᏅᎡᎸ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ, ᏱᏕᎧᏃᎯᏏ Ꮭ ᎣᎾᎸᏣᏘ ᏱᎦᎩ, ᏗᎬᏂᏓ ᎠᎴ ᏁᎳᎩ ᎡᎵᏍᏗ ᎢᎦᏓᏃ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎠᏂᏲᎯᎰ ᏃᏒᎾ ᏄᎾᎵᏍᏓᏁᎵᏙᎸᎢ.
“ᎢᎦᏓᏃ ᏄᎾᎵᏍᏓᏁᎵᏙᎸ……. ᏱᏣᏛᎦᏂ ᏱᏣᏚᎵ ᎦᏌᎾᎵ ᏫᏣᎩᎸᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎢᎴᎯᏳ ᏣᏠᎯᏍᏗ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ. ᎠᏕᎶᎰᎯᏍᏗ ᎢᎦ ᎠᏂᎦᏛᎴᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᏓᏁᎵᏙᎲ ᎠᎴ ᎢᎦ ᏍᏓᏯ ᏄᎾᎵᏍᏓᏁᎰ,” ᎤᏛᏅ. “ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎤᎾᏕᏯᏙᏗᏍᎬ Ꮭ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎬᏩᏓᏅᏓᏗᏍᏗ ᏱᎨᏐᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏄᏍᏙ ᎠᏁᎰᎢ.”
ᎾᏍᎩᏃᏍᏊ ᏕᎧᏃᎯᏎᎰ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᏗᏯᏅᏗ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ ᏗᎨᏥᏯᏅᎡᎸ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏕᎳ ᎠᏛᏅᎢᏍᏛ ᎾᎿ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ. Ꮭ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏱᎩ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏯᏛᏗᎢ, ᎤᏛᏅᎢ.
“ᎢᏳᏃ ᏙᏳᎪᏛ ᏯᏛᏗ ᏗᎦᏎᏍᏙᏗ ᏗᎨᏥᏯᏅᎡᎸ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ, Ꮭ ᎠᏕᎳ ᏳᏠᏯᏍᏗ.Ꮭ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏯᎾᏈᏱᎭ, ᎠᎴ Ꮭ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏱᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᏴᏯᏂᎭ ᎠᏲᏟ. ᏣᏚᎸᏗᎮᏃ ᎯᏍᏕᎸᏗ ᎠᏲᏟ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ. “ᎢᎦᏃ ᎤᎵᎮᎵᏍᏗ ᏗᎦᏎᏍᏙᏗ ᏓᏤᎸ ᎾᎾᎵᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ. ᎾᏍᎩ ᏭᎵᎮᎵᏍᏛ ᎾᎿ ᎯᎠ ᏯᏛᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏯ ᎨᏒ, ᏗᎦᏎᏍᏙᏗ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏓᏤᏠᏍᏙᏍᎬ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎤᏂᏱᎸᏒ ᎠᏁᎲᎢ.”